Mission…Breakout!

I’m thinking that the Collector is going to be kind of peeved about that wall.

I felt like I had to do a second post about Grad Night, in order to be properly narrative. My first stop at Downtown Disney was at the Build-A-Bear Workshop, to make next year’s School Time Pony. That happened, and yes, I did just straight up jam a pony into Star-Lord’s uniform, because I KNEW I was going on the “Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout!” ride.

At the Build A Bear…they know that you will be hauling around your pony through the park, so they have a special backpack for your little friend, which cost next to nothing. Amazingly convenient, and good points for planning there, Build A Bear Workshop.

That pony sprang into existence, and then went on a rapid fire stream of very, very intense rides. I feel like it must have some serious emotional problems at this point, as a result of its very drastic origins. Last year’s School Time Pony was made late in the day, and missed out on most of those shenanigans.

Everyone has been asking me, “What happens to last year’s School Time Pony?” I’ve been responding with, “She gets to retire,” and really…everyone goes to a pretty @#$%ing Dark Place when I say that. First off…let’s be fair, that pony has earned a quiet retirement…180 days of Public Education, tons of school activities, and a major car accident riding shotgun in a loaner car. That pony had some serious stress. As a result, “retirement” consists of being able to sit quietly with some pony friends in the upstairs office/art studio, and just be part of the process of making Tales of Adequacy.

So, NO, nothing horrible is happening to School Time Pony 2016-17. Bring it down a notch, True Believers.

I felt like I needed to do an arrival story for the current School Time Pony, even though he doesn’t take over the job until August. As a result, we have today’s artwork. Enjoy.

Someday Her Prince Will Come…

A second appearance for Kashima! And Screentones!

Since Grad Night happened on the same day as Adam West passing away, I never got around to discussing that at all. It was a pretty excellent day…and to be clear about it, Grad Night starts in the morning, and runs until 3 AM. I got to school at about 8 AM, and we had the buses loaded and rolling out by ten. The kids have to spend a bunch of money on the event, so what happens is that they get a park hopper pass, letting them go back and forth between Disney, and California Adventure. At ten o’clock at night, all of the Grad Night attendees need to get over to the California Adventure side, which then is completely High School Grads. Shorter lines, discos set up, and a special light show.

It’s a pretty exhausting day, even if your pace yourself.

Coming into the park, I saw Groot, who was making the rounds and looked @#$%ing awesome. The line for “Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout” was insane, so we put that on hold until Grad Night proper. The only princesses that I saw was Sofia the First, who I really wasn’t familiar with, but I took a photo with anyway, and Tiana…who didn’t stop for photos. We went around looking for my Cap’s mom, the Evil Queen, but she was nowhere to be found.

We did run into Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast”, but he didn’t stop for photo ops either. He was a bit stuck up, in fact…but I guess that’s in character. I had worn my “I’m Mary Poppins, Y’all!” t-shirt for the day, and that got me a huge amount of attention from Disney employees. Instant celebrity, anywhere I went.

Eventually, we did get on “Mission: Breakout.” The ride was quite literally INCREDIBLE. I say this after waiting an hour in line to get on, no Fast Pass…and being intensely claustrophobic. I didn’t see how ANY ride could possibly be good enough at that point, but…wow. I’d never been on Tower of Terror, but students who had been on both said that this was a vast improvement. I’ll trust them on that.

I actually went on a ton of rides, from the Teacups to the Murderhorn. We did our best to max out the number of rides, going on little known ones while waiting for Fast Passes to mature. At one point we connected with a student of ours, who wanted to go on rides with us, which was just completely charming. We also had dinner with that student, which turned out to be free because of some kind of massive fire alarm nearby in the park.

I wanted to do an illustration related to all of this…but decided that Disney Princess and Princesses were passe, I’ve given them enough play in the strip. As a result, I went with the “Prince of the School,” Kashima…from “Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun,” a manga that I’ve been reading, and find hilarious. Kashima is a tomboy that all the girls like, and is “Prince of the School,” often dressing like a Prince in Drama club. The manga is about the funny misunderstandings between the characters, as they are used as a reference for Nozaki’s romantic manga (which he draws).

Kashima, who is pretty clueless, if pretty much the funniest character in the book as far as I’m concerned. The book often gives real insight into how manga is made, and today’s art makes some use of that. For instance…I had no idea that the glittery backgrounds in manga are prefabricated screentones, that are bought, cut with a razor, and then painstakingly applied to the artwork that has been drawn. Glitter, like in all romance manga, and above in fact, is a prefab screentone.

There are TONS of them. The process is not so different from Kirby collaging, and later in the summer I’ll be using them extensively. In today’s art, I wanted to give it a try, and viola! Romantic screen tone background, as Cap accepts a can of soda from Kashima!

A positive post, with a fun “prince” and lot’s of glitter to summarize the antics of Grad Night!

Even with the buses leaving at 3:20 AM…I still walked in the door at home around five…so that good day was pretty exhausting. Of course, the Edu-Lords make a total pass on it, and don’t go at all.

How could they? It is FUN, after all.

Sidekicks Need To Learn How To Knock…!

Once again, the sidekicks fail to understand adult situations, and ruin “date night.”

You have to figure that this kind of thing happened all the time, once Batman got involved with Talia al’Ghul. None of the sidekicks would understand it at all, even though the evidence was clearly there. I mean…Talia is a Bad Guy, so Batman couldn’t REALLY find her attractive, right? I’ve always contended that a big part of growing up was actually in understanding the subtext of every single episode, where more often then not, dialogue was a clever innuendo or double entendre.

Obviously, Batman said a resounding “NO!” to last issue’s Bird of Paradise uniform, and instead gave Cap one of Nightwing’s hand me downs. That’s pretty much Batman’s “go to” move…Jason Todd also got Dick Grayson’s hand me downs. At least with Jason, there was less tailoring involved to make the suit work as a hand me down.

This pretty much beings me to the end of my week long goodbye to the Caped Crusader. There have been Batmen since, of course, and I haven’t really liked too many of them. In fact, the evolution away from the ideas and concepts of the Silver Age Batman, of Batman ’66, have pretty much been the same pacing as my movement away from the book in any regular sense. I expect Batman to be certain things, and Adam West pretty much defined a large number of those things.

I guess this week was fun in that it covered a lot of “continuity,” in giving us an view of Cap’s internship as part of the Bat-Family. It strikes me as some sort of really odd, 1960’s and Andy Warhol inspired summer camp, where you earn merit badges by saving Gotham City and doing the Batusi. It was also fun to take the week to remember Adam West, and how much enjoyment that he actually brought to me, and many others.

I actually got to tell him that, and shake his hand, long before the Batman ’66 renaissance that we now have. That was cool, and so was he.

Of course he was cool…he was Batman.

Tomorrow…new content! Be there!

How About The Mana Bird…?

In the earl nineties, I imagine this was a common sidekick/ mentor talk.

It has been about a week of Adam West/Batman’66 style flashback goodness, but the schtick that I have on that, at least for now, is drawing to a close. I felt like foreshadowing the disputes that would cause Cap and Batman to part company, for her to steal a Batmobile and leave Gotham, pretty much for good. All of that was depressing, so I went with a “growing up” gag, mixed in with what the changing times of the late eighties and early nineties were like in comics.

Always, always willing to take a cheap shot at Rob Liefeld.

That said…I’m actually going to take a little bit of time to be fair to Rob. In the late eighties, early nineties, when he took over the art on “New Mutants” and turned it into “X-Force”…my friends and I looked forward to every issue. His character designs were new and different, his panel compositions dynamic….there was a whole lot going on about Rob Liefeld that was actually good. Sure…now he’s one of the most polarizing people in comics…but then, he was one of the most popular comic artists in the world, if not THE most popular artist.

The AV Club has this to say about Rob, which is pretty much summative: “…he’s also the man who defined what the 1990s looked like in superhero books, so he’s crying all the way to the bank. For every detractor who thinks he’s the worst thing to happen to comic books since Fredric Wertham, there are a dozen ravenous fanboys ready to snatch up whatever he does next.” That’s beyond accurate…Rob signing on to a book, or doing a variant cover, moves units hand over fist, even now.

I have to admit, looking back at the early nineties, and Rob’s work, I wind up agreeing with The Walking Dead creator, Robert Kirkman, who defends Liefeld, saying: “Every figure that Rob draws has a certain energy to it, a certain excitement. Every character Rob drew had seven knives and six guns and shoulder pads and pouches and belts and straps and ammunition. It was an aesthetic that as a kid absolutely blew me away. I idolized the guy…Everything he draws is interesting, whether it’s accurate or not.” That’s pretty much how we felt in the waning days of high school, and in college. Everything that Rob drew was new, was weird, was something that no one else was doing, but pretty soon, everyone else was copying. Although even Rob admits that the pouches, guns and bionics of the time became cliche, and quickly…at the rime it was ALL THAT.

To be sure, most of Rob’s costume designs for woman had french cut one piece swimsuits with “Pretty Woman” boots and some asymmetrical design element. The spiky razor wings and capes were all part of it, but to be honest, sort of predate Rob himself. They just were folded into the aesthetic.

The art here happened in part because of a relatively new friend’s interest in Magic: The Gathering. She frowns at cards like Naga Vitalist, or the far better Birds of Paradise. These are cheap to bring out creatures that generate mana when you tap them, and as a result, accelerate your deck by giving you more mana sources, faster. The Birds of Paradise can generate mana of any color, which is a massive advantage. The cards are kind of boring, in that they don’t do anything interesting, but in a strong design, let you bring out the interesting cards faster.

The initial printings of the Birds of Paradise listed their creature types as “mana birds”, which has since gone by the wayside. However…the Liefeldization of the mana birds resulted in the costume that Cap has above, and that Batman ’66 seems bewildered by.

All sidekicks grow up, and leave the house…or mansion, or cave, as it were. At least you don’t have Green Arrow’s problems, Bruce.

After The Batusi…

She has a pretty solid point…

She really does.

Look at the original Teen Titans. You’ve got Aquaman…who is pathetic and sad, but very quickly got involved in a relationship with Mera (who has his basic Atlantean powers and Supreme Dominion over WATER), and then married her. The Flash, who dated and married Iris West. Wonder Woman, who always had dubious sexuality, but at the very least strung along Steve Trevor in a “monogamous relationship.” Those are the mentors for Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl.

If you have Batman (especially the Batman of 1966) as your mentor, the deal is completely different. Bruce Wayne went to parties as a “millionaire playboy”, and Batman would even participate in dance contests, surf battles, and other party style antics. Three different Catwomen aggressively flirted with him, as well as Joan Collins and a legion of henchwomen. Batman ’66 definitely had some serious game.

Obviously, that is what today’s post is about, in part.

Also, I’m going to a good friend’s graduation party. One of the cleverest people I know, he had the good sense to wait to go to a four year university until he felt that he was prepared for it, and would take it seriously. As a result, he has gotten more out of his degree than most people that I know, and almost everyone that I work with. I’m pretty sure it will be a good celebration…the event is certainly worthwhile.

Clearly, Batman ’66 is something of a father figure to Cap, and seeing him flirting with henchwomen from different Gotham Gangs would probably creep her out. What I love about the Gotham City of the sixties is that it makes perfect sense that Batman and his cronies could go to a party that was full of bad guys and henchmen…more than one Adam West pointed out that if they weren’t actually committing some kind of crimes, the psychos of Gotham City had rights. That’s a pretty far cry from modern Batman, who violates the civil rights of pretty much everyone…but once again, that’s kind of my beef with things.

Should they be coming in the front door of stately Wayne Manor? Of course not, but I hadn’t drawn it yet. I wanted a new venue, and the Batman ’66 Wayne Manor is great. in truth, I imagine that Cap would actually rarely be allowed upstairs, since she can’t pass for human at all, and Bruce (in the sixties) constantly had guests.

Don’t Turn That Dial…!

That’s a lot of bears.

The Batman ’66 episodes generally followed a predictable structure. A first half hour long segment which brought in the villain for the episode, and left Batman, Robin, and sometimes Batgirl in a deathtrap by the end of the episode. A second half hour long segment where they fist save themselves, and then go about the business of dealing with the bad guys’ plot, often by just winning the same kind of fight that they had lost to get put into the deathtrap.

It was a fantastic formula. In each half hour there were radical twists and turns with no preamble whatsoever. Often, Batman had precisely the tool that was needed just sitting in his Utility Belt, pretty much making his preparedness the model for Boy Scouts everywhere. You didn’t need any set up or foreshadowing for it…OF COURSE Batman has the mini blowtorch on him, or the bizarre secret circus training that allows him to whistle in a way that drives off scorpions. He’s Batman, after all.

Modern storytelling in comics has gotten far, far away from that set of ideas. In modern comics, if Batman is going to get a new Belt Buckle, that’s an eight issue limited series (BuckleQuest) which explores the ramifications and story consequences, to every member of the ensemble cast, of that Belt Buckle. Gone are the days when things like that happened between panels, with MAYBE a throwaway line to indicate that something had taken place. If Batman is going to have a new skill, you need to foreshadow that three issues in advance, and then there will be a pages long explanation of it afterward.

I miss the sheer momentum of Silver Age books. Batman ’66 (the TV show and the recent comic) captured that energy, that momentum, pretty much by only explaining the things that you needed to explain, and not worrying all that much about realism. Notice, in the two panels above, Cap, who can just punch out bears, or throw them directly into the Sun, is concerned about how to deal with them. Heck, she wants to call Elsa, who will presumably freeze them? Hard to say. I think she’s definitely concerned with how PETA would respond to her just punching a bunch of grizzly bears.

Batman, though…he’s “got this.” He’s SO unworried, he takes the time to chide Cap on her foul language. Propriety is important to a proper Batman.

Keen eyed readers might notice that Cap doesn’t have the Robin “R” on her suit…neither the traditional one, or the more modern one. In at least one previous post referring to the Batman ’66 book, and a probable partnership, she had her common star emblem in that spot…but since doing this week’s posts, I decided to not go that route at all. She just doesn’t have a logo, because on some level, she’s kind of a stand-in for the job. I’ve pretty much thought of her as a post-Jason Todd replacement…but pre-Tim Drake, and the updating of the suit.

You know…in case any continuity buffs of either this strip, or Batman, really cared about that kind of thing.

It’s Not All Punching Clowns and Penguins…

A slow day in Gotham City.

I am very pleased with how the art for today came out. Beyond pleased…it makes me very, very happy. It puts me in mind of a conversation that I had with a friend, years ago now. He had asked me, “Don’t you want to learn cross hatching?” I had replied, “No, because it looks like a @#$%ing chore.”

I was right. It looks @#$%ing great, but it is a @#$%ing chore.

Last night, Mayor Garcetti, with the chief of police, lit a Bat Signal in honor of Adam West, reflecting it off of City Hall. The turn out was huge, with people celebrating the contribution that West had made to their lives, and with a ton of good humor. The crowd sang the Batman ’66 theme song, there were people in costume, and two Batmobiles on hand.

Drawing this, I was thinking about the days where the Batphone DOESN’T ring. With a conventional Robin or sidekick, you might train at martial arts, or how to fall, or hang around the cave lifting weights. You might run the treadmill, for cardio, and give athletic pointers. The thing is…Cap, being an Alien American, just can’t profit from working out in the Batcave, since she has super speed, and can bench press the mansion.

Even chores like filing all the Bat Dossiers into the Bat Files, and then alphabetizing them, can be done at super speed. The fact is, having a sidekick with Silver Age Superpowers gives you a ton of free time, that if you can’t fill, seems like it would be a bit of a drag.

I wanted to draw some “quality time”, since this is the Batman that Cap likes, and respects. I didn’t really see what they might have to talk about, or do together though…it was a pretty tough call. Roasting marshmallows with the atomic power plant of the Batmobile seemed okay to me…kind of wholesome, and just fun enough. Kind of like a really, really lame camping trip, that everyone meant well about.

A whole lot of being Batman and Robin seems like it’s a bit of a chore, really. Why can’t the Commissioner just read you the stupid riddles over the Batphone, right? You’ve got to drive all the way down there, open the damn riddle, solve it, and then drive to a crime already in progress. Just a big ol’ chore, that. When the Cat’s Eye Diamond is in town, you KNOW that Catwoman is going to go after it. You KNOW that. Why not actually post a ton of Gotham’s cops, and O’hara, on site? That would be smart, and would at least save you the trouble of having to look for a hideout later, after the diamond is stolen, and Catwoman gets away. A cop could just say, “They went that way” and narrow your whole detective thing immensely.

With all of that said, Batman ’66 had a whole lot more free time than the current versions of Batman. Bruce Wayne used to hang around swanky events with Dick Grayson, doing the whole “millionaire playboy” thing. Like, he would actually hang around, shmooze, talk to people, dance, and be charming. He went to concerts and such. Modern Bruce “is the mask,” meaning that somehow everyone believes that he is a rich playboy, but he never DOES anything as such. All of his time is spent training, working cases, lurking in shadows, and being glum.

So yes…being Batman and Robin, without superpowers, is a bit of a chore. However now…it’s much MORE of a chore, and seems a lot less fun. No surfing, no sixties dance parties, no going to “sit ins” and trying to understand hippies…none of the stuff that I miss.

And you can be sure that the modern, sullen Batman would never use the Batmobile to make s’mores on a slow day in Gotham City.