“All New X-Men 23 pp 16-17”

“All New X-Men 23 pp 16-17” (April 2014)
by Stuart Immonen (1967-) and Wade Von Grawbadger ()
17 x 22 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Another 2-page spread from Immonen.

Continuing the rebooted X-Men series with the original five heroes plucked from 1963 and now living in the present. Jean Grey learns of her legacy of crimes as the host for the Phoenix Force.

Jean wakes up on a Shi’ar ship and is told by Gladiator that she is soon to be put on trial, yet she is not told her crimes until Oracle, a Shi’ar telepath, communicates with her. She reveals to Jean that she is accused of murdering a world with the power of the Phoenix.

“All New X-Men 18 pp 16-17”

All New X-Men 18 pp 16-17” (January 2014)
by Stuart Immonen (1967-) and Wade Von Grawbadger ()
17 x 22 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Immonen is a master of the 2-page comic book spread.

Continuing the rebooted X-Men series with the original five heroes plucked from 1963 and now living in the present.

As Scott is the only one of the students whom Kitty wanted to see who actually appeared, she sends him back to his room to rest. After Scott leaves, Kitty has a moment to talk to Illyana and reconnect with her. Two days later Kitty summons the original X-Men again so Illyana can magically give them new, updated costumes.

“#2 Adam” (update)

I described the history of my interest in the TL Lange painting titled “#1 Adam” a while back.

#1 Adam” (ca. 2000-02)
by T. L. Lange (1965-2002)
48 x 48 in., mixed media on canvas
Delta Airlines SkyClub (North DTW Gate 64)

As a part of her Kickstarter, I picked up a 9 x 12 inch commission from Tessa, and she has provided me with a quite nice homage on “#1 Adam.”

#2 Adam” (2017)
by Tessa Kindred (1989-)
9 x 12 in., watercolor and acrylic on paper
Coppola Collection

There is one original left from the series of paintings that “#1 Adam” was a part of. Ironically enough, it is called “Brian 8” –

Brian 8” (ca. 2000-02)
by T. L. Lange (1965-2002)
50 x 46.5 in., oil on canvas
available from Grand Image for waaaay too much money

“Presenting Chickie Ricks”

Text pieces (in italics) adapted from “The 10-Cent War: Comic Books, Propaganda, and World War II”
Trisha Goodnow and James J Kimble, Eds.
2016 University Press of Mississippi

Chapter 11: War Victory Adventures by James J Kimble

The major comic book houses (National Periodicals, which would become DC, and Timely Periodicals, which would become Marvel) shot to prominence, and formed the foundation of the Golden Age of Comics, by pitting their hordes of superheroes against the Axis powers. One of the most ardent publishers to join this effort, and perhaps the most surprising, was Family Comics (later, Harvey Comics, which is famously known for its kid-friendly funny-book characters and stories). [p 201]

Kimble spends this chapter talking about the series originally titled “War Victory Comics” (issue 1, summer 1942), which became “War Victory Adventures” with its second issue (August 1943). The cover of issue #2 tells you almost everything you need to know about how comics were cooperating with the United States Government to create strong propaganda pieces.

“War Victory Adventures #2” (cover) August 1943
Family Comics

Each individual contribution in some way added to the construction of the larger, nationwide role of a reluctant-but-heroic United States, a metaphoric figure who personified bravery and resourcefulness in the face of undeniable evil. By portraying various Americans in action on the battlefronts and the home front, in other words, the series constituted a compelling and persuasive portrait of the United States itself as a personified participant in the war’s dramatic action. [p 204]

Kimble argues that the selection of common, everyday characters who transform themselves into more heroic ones was a deliberate message to their youthful readership. The first story in this new series introduces Horace “Chickie” Ricks, a shy 17-year-old volunteer who barely needs to shave. Chickie goes to boot camp, toughens up, and rescues his commanding officer from some Nazi spies.

I own all of the original art to this first Chickie Ricks story.

As you can see, below, the series was apparently going to be called Ricky Ricks and then changed to Chickie Ricks. Or, the scripter or letterer thought it was Ricky Ricks and it was corrected as the pages were reviewed. The glued-on “Chickie Ricks” logo has long-ago fallen off the page. I cannot locate a copy of the published page 1 from this story, but the first page from the second story (in Adventures #3) is shown here for reference.

“War Victory Adventures #3” (Chickie Ricks, p1) January 1944
Family Comics

Or, if you check out the center panel on page 4, the Major’s daughter, Cloe, is the one who combines “Ricky” with her defining the Marine term “chicken” and she is the one who dubs him with the name “Chickie,” accordingly. That panel is a paste-over, so it’s impossible to tell what that dialog was to begin with.

If you look at the other pages in this story, the character is referred to as Horace a few times, on page 2 as “Ricky” (once), on page 4 as “Ricky” (twice) and as “Chickie” once (uncorrected, and in context – see next paragraph), and on page 8 as “Chickie” twice (both clearly corrected).

My take on it is that they were going with “Ricky Ricks” as the name of the character, and somewhere late in the production, the “Chickie” joke gained favor, so they changed the name of the character and then adjusted page 8, and the title page, accordingly, and perhaps even strengthen the script in that one panel with Cloe.

“Presenting Chickie Ricks”

“Presenting Chickie Ricks pp 1-8” (August 1943) by Bob Powell
in War Victory Adventures #2 by Family Comics
by Bob Powell (1916-1967)
15 x 22 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

“My Moment with Mona”

“My Moment with Mona” (2016)
by JM Brodrick (1954-)
20 x 38 in., acrylic on canvas
Coppola Collection

There is a lot to like about this painting. The intimacy suggested by the title “My Moment with…” contrasts with the hustle and bustle of the crowd who are all faded, literally and figuratively, into the background. The use of color and the angle of the woman’s stance and arms all get us to look in the direction she is looking (much the same way it happens when you walk out onto the street and everyone is looking at something). Our main subjects sit at exactly the same level as the Mona Lisa, they are framed by that painting in the background, and the question about who, exactly, is watching whom, is suggested by the equal weight and spacing that the subjects and Mona get on the canvas.

The general theme of people interacting with art is one I enjoy, and always a fun one for artists to play with. Two of my all-time favorite paintings in this genre are by Norman Rockwell.

“The Art Critic” (1955)
by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
39½  x 36¼ in., oil on canvas
The Norman Rockwell Museum

“The Connoisseur” (1961)
by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
37¾ x 31½ in., oil on canvas
Private Collection

“Innocents Abroad”

Innocents Abroad” (September 28, 1939)
by Paul Albert Plaschke (1880 – 1954)
12 x 15 in., ink and charcoal on paper
Coppola Collection

Historians report that the Treaty of Versailles (1919), brokering the peace at the end of WWI, caused significant resentment in Germany, and that Hitler played off of this to achieve power. The British government believed that Hitler and Germany had some genuine grievances, but that if these could be met (‘appeased’) Hitler would be satisfied and become less demanding.

Becoming Chancellor in 1933, Hitler began to re-arm the country, breaking the Versailles restrictions. In March 1938, he annexed Austria. Czechoslovakia was next.

In September 1938, British PM Neville Chamberlain returned from Germany, having signed the Munich Agreement, and famously, publically, and ultimately ironically declared “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.”

German forces moved in and occupied a significant chunk of Czechoslovakia on October 1. Six months later, all of Czechoslovakia was taken over. Poland was next.

Chamberlain made an agreement with the Poles to defend them if Germany invaded. But Hitler did not think Britain would go to war over Poland, having failed to do so over Czechoslovakia.

Germany signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact with the USSR on August 23, 1939, which included a secret plan to divide Poland between them  (see the pair of cartoons, by this same artist, on the German relationship with the USSR and Italy).

Hitler sent troops into Poland on September 1-3, 1939, claiming it was a defensive action. On August 31, Nazi troops wearing Polish uniforms staged a phony invasion of Germany, damaging several minor installations on the German side of the border. They also left behind a handful of dead concentration camp prisoners in Polish uniforms to serve as further evidence of the supposed Polish invasion, which Nazi propagandists publicized as an act of aggression.

On September 3, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and France declared war on Germany, which is generally regardless as the start of WWII.

By September 28, 1939, the day this cartoon was published, Poland had fallen and Germany and the USSR concluded their agreement, outlining their zones of occupation.

Over two more years would pass before US isolationism would be broken by the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Veni, Vedi… oops…

Two Saturdays ago I was in Jinan, China, giving that talk I wrote about.

Last Saturday, I was in Manhattan. That was four days ago.

It was mid-evening in The Big Apple. The Big Apple… an informal term that originally derived from horse-racing, fell out of favor, and was then revived again during the mid-century revitalization of NYC.

It was mid-evening in The Big Apple. Lower Manhattan to be precise, just about at the corner of Wall Street and William, just this side of the Trump Hotel, where you can see people taking selfies against the big gold letters T.R.U.M.P. all day long.

On the way back to my hotel, coming back from a short errand about 9:30 PM, I was crossing that poorly lit intersection just one block north of Wall Street. I was carrying my small plastic bag of Coke Zero bottles that I has just picked up at the 24 hour Duane Reade, located on the north side of the hotel with the big gold TRUMP letters over the south entrance.

Mere moments from the entrance to my hotel, which did not have big gold letters on the front, I stepped up to the curb… but not quite completely lifting my freaking right foot to clear the curb itself.

The next thing I knew, I had done a perfect 4-point landing on the concrete at that intersection just north of Wall Street on William. A face-plant, that is, given that the 4 points were my forehead, my nose, my eye socket, and my chin. What I recall is my right eye pressed against the back of the right lens of my glasses, which was in turn pressed against the sidewalk.

I was moving forward and I think I might have bounced.

The kind couple who witnessed this came over to see if I was OK as I was getting up and taking the inventory of my body parts and checking myself over for breaks and displacements. It seems I led with my head, perhaps because my dominant arm was busy at the time.

The woman asked if I wanted help. I was pissed that I was looking through a completely scratched up lens on pair of relatively new and relatively expensive pair of glasses. Nothing like getting your priorities set. I made some comment about having screwed up my glasses, and that I was mere steps from my hotel, so I would just head inside. She let me know I was bleeding, at which point I looked at the deep red hue shimmering off the black leather gloves I was wearing.

All parts in place and my nose seemed to be straight. Check. Brain was working. Check. I knew where I was and I was starting get so annoyed that this had happened. Check. Surprisingly little pain. I popped up my hood and pulled off my hat to shield my face. I was not that interested in getting into a conversation as I passed through the hotel. The person at reception did not see me, and I scooted to the corner of the small and almost empty lounge area just through the lobby, passing the one guy whose nose was stuck in his phone.

I sat and took inventory again, and tried to figure where this blood was coming from, and whether calling 911 was in my future. After perhaps 2-3 minutes, I felt composed. There was blood but I was not dripping any. And so back to the lobby as soon as those people who just got off the elevator cleared out.

Traveling as much as I do, I carry some baseline medical supplies. Alcohol pads… cotton balls… Neosporin… bandaids. A little soap and warm water, and a bit of macabre fascination looking back in the mirror – but not enough to take a picture. Clean was the watch-word. I was not too interested in thinking about what might be lurking on the surface of concrete just north of Wall Street that was now pressed into my skin.

I am a good healer… maybe not Wolverine calibre, but not too bad. Twenty-four hours later, the improvement was quite noticeable. Four days later (see above) I am nursing a heck of a black eye, but all the other mending has progressed significantly.

My optical insurance appears to have a stupidity clause in the warranty, so the glasses are being replaced at no cost.

And those bottles of Coke Zero I was carrying? Well, those little bastards skittered away and were never heard from again.

Two Years Later…

Two years ago, this month, I got the diagnosis. Here are two years worth of A1c tests. The standard non-diabetic range is 4.2-5.6%

The conclusion here is that testing this regularly is no longer warranted, and to start pushing it off to 6-9 months, and potentially just keep up with it at the annual exam.

From April 2015 to April 2017, a number of other indicators have all swung from OK levels into the “really healthy” category, too.

Cholesterol has gone from 164 to 146 mg/dL (< 200 is good)
HDL has gone from 37 to 63 mg/dL (>40 is good; >60 is beneficial)
LDL has gone from 96 to 69 mg/dL (<130 is good)
The Cholesterol/HDL ratio has gone from 4.4 to 2.3 (<4.5 is good)
And total triglycerides has gone from 157 to 70 mg/dL (<150 is good)

My blood pressure is probably better than it has ever been, and currently running about 106/60 quite regularly, and only jumping up to 120 in response to white coats!


“Harvest Moon”

Harvest Moon” (2016)
by Barbara Kacicek (1957-)
10 × 10 in., oil on linen
Coppola Collection

Part of an ongoing series from Barbara, commemorating the differently labeled moons that exist.

The Harvest Moon is the full Moon nearest the start of fall. This usually means it’s the September full Moon (although it can also fall in early October).

The Harvest Moon isn’t like the other Moons. Usually, throughout the year, the Moon rises an average of about 50 minutes later each day. But near the autumnal equinox, the difference is only 30 minutes. Also,the Full Harvest Moon rises at sunset and then will rise near sunset for several nights in a row because the difference is at a yearly minimum. It may almost seem as if there are full Moons multiple nights in a row! The abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening was a traditional aide to harvest crews, hence the “Harvest” Moon.

Of the recordings of the song “Shine On, Harvest Moon,” I am partial to the one by Leon Redbone (Double Time, 1976). Youtube performance here.