Friday, February 03, 2006

”The great goat song flies from the horn of Theogoetia...” plus: Frank Sees, Bush Bleats, Sheehan Shines, The Joint Chiefs Chafe, Criswell Predicts, and more.

Quote for the day:

“Obviously, no one can keep a cartoonist from doing what they want to do...”

- Our own beloved Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on this morning’s CNN radio news!

Among my all-time favorite comicbooks in the world is the Dell title Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle, which was written by uncredited hands (Joe Gill is cited by some sources) and drawn by the one and only Sam Glanzman, whose work had an enormous influence upon my own. It was Sam’s earthy brush-and-ink work that forged

Among my personal favorite issues of Kona is #6 (April-June 1963), which plunged the white-haired Cro-Magnon caveman hero and his entourage (Dr. Dodd and family) to the ocean floor and the hidden subterranean cavern city of Pacificus. As usual, the purple prose dialogue is deliciously loopy. When first exposed to the super-science of Pacificus’s amphibious denizens (when they almost ‘disassemble’ Kona and just as quickly “reassemble” him), Dodd exclaims, “How noble! The alchemy of the year 7000! When shall our science reach the heights of this science? Compared to this, our science is a mere unevolved zero! A bug! A nothing! A nothing minus nothing!

As always, Sam elevates the semi-nonsensical script with marvelous imagery, with the feuding races of Pacificus divided into spindle-limbed Egyptian-glyph-like beings and oppositional fish/reptilian-like humanoids, a mutant race Glanzman vividly brings to life. The dialogue becomes even loopier as these monstrous anarchists enter the fray; when sound weapons are wielded, one panel has the bestial race redundantly rant, “He blows the sacred horn of Pacificus.” “The note of his power is sounded.” “The great goat song flies from the horn of Theogoetia.” “Our sound weapons are made useless!”

After this revelatory turn of events, Kona dependably tears into the villains with his bayonet, overwhelmed by their numbers until his 20th Century buddy Dr. Dodd detonates a couple of hand grenades overhead -- which are subsequently used to blow the protective “wall of the rosy quartz”, triggering a sudden volcanic upheaval and ending the issue with a cataclysmic undersea explosion. Ah, comics in the ‘60s.

Glanzman’s Pacificus monster race bear some similarities to the principles of animal-to-man caricature outlined in Giovanni Battista della Porta’s De Humana Physiognomonia (1586) and Charles Le Brun’s Resemblances (collecting engravings originally published in the late 1600s), in which Court of Versailles artist and architect Le Brun argued the scientific theory that a man’s true character could be divined by comparing his head and facial characteristics with whichever animals he most closely resembles.

I once savored library copies of reprint editions of both books, and this week’s Center for Cartoon Studies round-table ‘design a critter’ drawing session prompted me to excavate my notes from those perusals. Maybe I can find my own copies of the reprint editions, online -- here’s hoping. If anyone has any leads, let me know, please.

After my weekend review of the Visions of Frank DVD, some of you emailed me directly asking about where to get a copy.

Visions of Frank is available now from John Rovnak’s online site, for about $22.00 plus shipping. Pop over to John’s site
  • here.
  • Now, mind you, you can't process an order there as yet -- the site is still under construction -- but John’s service is active. Just check out the sample page, then pronto email John at and tell him I sent you.

    Order with confidence; he’s been taking care of almost all my comics and graphic novel needs for over 15 years, and I’m a happy and ongoing customer.

    No surprise: the more analysis that comes to light about the health care savings plan (HSA) President Bush rolled out as part of his Tuesday night “State of the Union” speech, the more obvious it is that this plan once again benefits the rich & healthy disproportionately, and does nothing at all for those most in need of health care: the chronically sick and the working poor.

    Primary and preventive care is already a disaster. According to some analysts, this program creates situtations in which deductibles and premiums for applicants -- before receiving a nickel’s worth of health care -- can and will total $12,000 combined out of pocket. One would assume we’re looking at another windfall for the insurance companies on the straining spines of overburdened, underpaid, underinsured working Americans -- but the HSAs are going to fragment the insurance market further. Ultimately, the HSAs provide tax sheltered savings programs for the wealthy while moderate-to-low income workers will struggle with skyrocketing premiums and unaffordable deductibles and premiums.

    This shifts costs to consumers in a hideously illusory “free market” (like we all “shop” for health care, particularly in the case of emergencies). The further privatization of health care only increases our already enormous collective national health care costs (the highest of any industrialized nation in the world), and in fact promotes much higher out-of-pocket costs for everyone (except those earning enough to purchase the low-deductible HSA plans), with killer deductibles.

    When I first learned about such HSA plans two years or so ago (as an employee still, at that time, at First Run Video), I quickly sussed out how the HSA principle worked and opted for a less-costly, more effectively health care plan thankfully available to me via my wife’s work policy. Almost no one could afford the option, which only increased deductibles prohibitively: the annual "you're going to be paying much more for much less" health insurance scramble I grew used to as an employee (mind you, this is a national issue relevent to all small businesses, not just First Run Video).

    Now, a federal variation on that unworkable plan is being touted by our President, and the merry rollercoaster ride to hell is assured for more Americans in increasingly dire need of health care.

    No surprise Part 2: Cindy Sheehan’s arrest -- arrest -- for wearing an anti-war t-shirt to the Tuesday night “State of the Union” speech is an outrage, and says more about the “State of the Union” than anything Bush said, bantering as he was about “spreading freedom” while Sheehan was rushed to jail by the D.C. police.

    Online, Sheehan wrote soon after, “I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether or not he/she has paid the ultimate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government. That's why I am going to take my freedoms and liberties back. That's why I am not going to let BushCo take anything else away from me ... or you. I am so appreciative of the couple of hundred of protesters who came to the jail while I was locked up to show their support. We have so much potential for good. There is so much good in so many people. Four hours and two jails after I was arrested, I was let out. Again, I am so upset and sore it is hard to think straight. Keep up the struggle ... I promise you, I will too.”

    She “gave” her son to Bush’s war, and receives this kind of treatment.

    That says it all.

    Giving up the life of one’s son just isn’t enough for this leader. He hasn’t attended funerals for those fallen in this lie-based pre-emptive war of his, and he hasn’t an ounce of respect for any family of a fallen soldier -- unless they’re of use to him in his campaign to “stay the course” in this war.

    Bush hasn’t a fraction of the courage he asks of our soldiers.

    He cannot face this woman.

    Bush espouses freedom but cannot abide it; the clear pattern of his refusal to face any but the devoted gatherings his sycophants ‘approve’ for attending any and all Bush speeches exposes his craven cowardice and blinkered isolationism (a term he tried to affix Tuesday night to anyone critical of his views, even as Sheehan was en route to jail) for what it is.

    Anyone with eyes can now see Bush for what he is.

    The selective screening of the Bush and Cheney crowds for every venue has been characteristic of their behavior since the beginning of the first election they were involved in, but this is a new low.

    We are back in the realm of the 1960s and ‘70s repression of free speech amid growing national turmoil and anger against an unnecessary war -- only now it’s mothers of fallen warriors that are being dragged away by the powers-that-be.

    Bush has successfully topped Nixon in his abuses of power; quite an accomplishment.

    This Administration has no shame.

    They have no right.

    Bush has no shame.

    Bush has no right.

    Their/his lies are increasingly naked, as are their/his abuses of power and their/his undeniable contempt for the most fundamental of American freedoms.

    No surprise Part 3:
  • Hey, remember how inexpensive this war was supposed to be?
  • Remember how Bush dismissed the only member of his Administration willing to admit how expensive this war would be?

    Remember this when the federal budget is discussed later this month, once again sans any cost of the Iraq War. It’s “Enron accounting” from the President, folks: Hide the true deficit.

    Oh, and remember, this all this started with box cutters -- Saudi terrorists with boxcutters, in four domestic airline planes. Boxcutters are cheap. Saudis aren’t Afghans or Iraqis. More “fuzzy math,” I reckon.

    No surprise Part 4: Dan Barlow passed along this info to me via email; thanks, Dan!:

    "A Tom Toles editorial cartoon published in The Washington Post on Monday and on its Web site has drawn a very rare and very strong protest letter to the editors from all six members of The Joint Chiefs of Staff, E&P has learned."

    The source of this news items is
  • here,
  • and Americablog has the cartoon
  • here.

  • Dan adds, “So, now they care about the troops? Wait, only cartoon troops...”

    What is a surprise is that this controversy prompted the Rumsfeld quote I opened today’s blog with, which is already gospel in this household, a mere ten forty minutes after we heard it on Marge’s wakeup radio alarm. I never thought I’d be thanking ‘chickenhawk’ Rummy for anything, but thanks for that, Rummy!

    (BTW, the Toles cartoon bears a striking resemblence to one of Greg Irons/Tom Veitch’s most notorious one-page underground comix gems, depicting a Vietnam War soldier “coming home” in similarly limbless condition, but in even worst shape: faceless, limbless, on multiple IVs. History continues to repeat itself.)

    No surprise Part 5: It could have been worse: Toles could have written “Muhammad” on the soldier.

    As I’m sure you’ve heard or read by now, there were dire reports yesterday from the Gaza Strip in Gaza City concerning the outrage over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad drawn in a series of editorial cartoons by a Danish cartoonist. The ire escalating in the Islamic world prompted Palestinian gunmen to kidnap a German citizen, while protesters in Pakistan were chanting "Death to France" and "Death to Denmark."

    I this whole democracy thing isn’t going down well in the Middle East; the ol’ “it’s just lines on paper” argument isn’t carrying any weight. This could get worse today and over the weekend as the outrage spreads like proverbial wildfire -- over cartoons.

    Choose your poison: multiple links to the story, via AP, Reuters, AFP, Canadian Press, etc., can be found
  • here.
  • I would post the link to the cartoons, too, but I don’t want to bring the ire of Islam to Marlboro, VT.

    I mean, isn’t that our President’s current justification for the war and our national strategy? “Keep it over there,” right? See, I’m a loyal American, too.

    And if all that isn’t lunatic enough for ya, it’s time for today’s archival Criswell prediction:

    “I Predict...the only medium of exchange we will have, will be a punch card. No coins, no bills, just a punch card. No gold, no silver, just a punch card. A punch card will clear at the automation center to buy you the things you want. However, I predict if you do not have enough energy units through work you will draw nothing.”

    Did Criswell predict the Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the rise of a fascistic American junta, Jihad over cartoons, the abuses of power at the hands of a burning pants-on-fire Bush, the swelling health care crisis, the election of a conservative Prime Minister in Canada?

    I Predict -- you'll tune in tomorrow!