Eat it, nerds. A movie about a Fish Man just won the Oscars. Every day of my life I wake up and wonder how I have the audacity to think I can make movies for a living. Why, when the world is is a roiling ocean of chaos that could really use doctors, teachers, and engineers, why should I aim for making movies about scarecrows, killer cars, and space queens. I don’t know. But that’s what I want to do. And this God-fearing fat little Mexican boy made Geometria one day, and didn’t stop. Last year he made a movie about queer people and fish-fucking mutes and black people and Russian spies. And it won 4 Oscars. So I’m gonna go with my gut on this one.
It’s a bright and sunny day here in the swamp, the last day of February and somehow in the mid 50’s. I’m sitting in the sunroom of the old Swamp Mansion with the windows open as Mr. Kittycat Jackson curls up with all my new comics. I’ve been busy raiding tombs in South America for most of the last week, so the new cache of comics is a few weeks old, but let’s see what’s in the stash today, shall we? Continue reading
After missing a week or two of our weekly feature, I was combing through my desk drawers looking for any drafts I may have started during these past weeks digging for incan gold during the rainy season. I did not start any. But I did find this long abandoned draft for an edition this past September. You’re out of your God damned mind if you think I’m going to write copy for this now, while I have treasure to bury all day, but I suspect you come here mostly for pictures of the cat anyway.
For this edition of Hogging the Covers, I am featuring Batman #477 and 478, the two-part story A Gotham Tale. I opened these issues on my birthday in 1992, the first birthday I think I can remember. This birthday stands out to me for several reasons, I was with my family in Maine at my Nana and Poppop’s house, it seemed like my birthday snuck up on me early (as I found out years later, it did, my family just told me it was my birthday a day early because we had to drive all the way back to New Jersey on my actual birthday), and because I got three magic, memorable gifts. I must have unwrapped clothes and toys, but I will never forget opening the coolest Batman 1989 Halloween mask that was comically huge on me for years to come, and these two Batman comics.
Between the movie-quality mask and these comic book covers that inter-linked to form this three dimensional photo scene, Batman had never been so tangibly real to me. These covers exploded my mind as a kid, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking at yet. It was a photograph of a miniature model, but I could only understand that it wasn’t real people, but it was a real thing and not a drawing. I poured over the pages in the car ride home. I stared at the covers endlessly on the dining room table the next day, taking them apart to examine them separately and putting them back together to see the full image again. I dug them up again and again over the coming years to look at the pictures, and eventually read when I understood the words. This image stuck with me my whole life.
For years I would lose these issues in my room, and in boxes in the basement, only to re-discover them and lose them again. I still have them somewhere, tattered and not well taken care of, but still magic, and awaiting rediscovery. A few months ago I found a dollar bin copy of #478, which is where I learned the issue numbers of these memories, and the creators. While I got these issues in October, they are actually the May issues of that year, at the time Batman came out twice a month. Written by John Wagner and drawn by 2000 AD artist Cam Kennedy, who’s work on Bobba Fett I loved as a kid. The cover is by Tom Taggart, who I’ve only recently learned is known for his mixed-media collage comic covers, notably on Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing. Below are all of the images I could find of the sculpted model he photographed for the cover.
I can’t seem to find much more information on Mr. Taggart, other than he has an Etsy store where you can buy some pretty neat jewelry, paintings and sculptures, Those Frankensteins in particular are pretty cool. If I were a rich man I could even buy the statue, but I may lose my apartment to put it in, at that price point.
All that really matters is that this is an enduring cover image for me. It sparked my imagination when I was four years old, and has circled back around periodically to remind me of it’s iconic power. Batman and a Gargoyle fighting it out on a Gothic Cathedral tower that looks suspiciously like an old radio, and even if they’re not real, they’re definitely real. I had to have it then, and I’ll never get rid of them now.
The swamp thaws! Alligators burst forth from the floating blocks of ice that imprisoned them in suspended animation, The tide of the Raccoon/ Bear war takes a turn in favor of the Raccoon kingdom, and here at The rambling old swamp mansion, we can once more traverse previously avalanche-blocked mountain passes to the news stand. It is time once more for the weekly haul! let’s see what’s in the stash this week, shall we? Continue reading