Spooktoberfest Special: OH NO Redux!

From GHOSTLY TALES #82 (October, 1973):

Chris Sims never thought much about ghosts until the day he dared to mock… THE SUPERNATURAL!!

He fancied himself a writer, did young Mister Sims, always having a laugh at the expense of the most chilling stories, finding safety in his jokes the fact that they were, as he said… “only stories.”

Ghosts and ghouls held no terror for him, but the favorite targets of his scornful derision… were actually skeletons!! “Hey everyone,” he’d just written, “have a look at these silly old comic-book covers! They’re full of drawings of skeletons popping up in unusual places, which–of course–could never really happen!”

He finished his typing and yawned, looking over to check the time: Twelve o’clock! As any occultist would know… The Witching Hour! But he paid no heed to the time best left to the creatures of the night, and wandered sleepily into the kitchen for a drink.

And that’s when something… caught his eye!

It was a simple box of Honey Smacks, and the back was what he saw then, leering at him from atop the icebox! A seemingly happy scene of a school… a school that would soon teach him a lesson in terror!

 

 

“Huh. Puzzles you can do while you eat breakfast. That’s a pretty good ide–”

He stopped short, his blood running cold as he took a closer look.

 

 

 

 

“This cereal box puzzle drawing… IS ACTUALLY A SKELETON!! AND IT KNOWS KARATE!!!

Heh heh heh… Looks like young Mister Sims found out that skeletons really can be everywhere, doesn’t it? But don’t let that scare you away from your breakfast, boys and ghouls! After all.. it’s the most important meal of your life!

EEEHEHEHEHEHE!

Spooktoberfest Special: OH NO!

The passengers on the #3 bus to the Downtown/Stadium Area…

 

 

…ARE ACTUALLY SKELETONS!

 

Yes, as ISB readers might recall from when I first stumbled on the formula last year, DC was able to keep up with the astonishing demand for horror comics in the mid-70s by publishing no fewer than seven titles whose covers were based almost entirely around putting skeletons in places where skeletons would not usually be found, often with horrifyingly ridiculous results!

Skeletal bus drivers, skeletal ski instructors, skeletal lighthouses… The madmen creating these terrifying tomes would stop at nothing to ambush the reader with a shot of osteological dread, and with the climax of Spooktoberfest rapidly approaching, I thought it might be time for another gruesome gallery of things… that are actually skeletons!

 

 

“Good Lord! Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson… IS ACTUALLY A SKELETON!!

 

 

“Uh, honey, I know it’s our special day and everything, but I’m pretty sure your cousin Ethel… IS ACTUALLY A SKELETON!!

 

 

“Could it be Lupus, or is Dr. House… ACTUALLY A SKELETON?!

 

 

“This is madness! King Leonidas… IS ACTUALLY A SKELETON!

 

 

“I say, leftenant! It appears the cloud cover the Jerries were using… IS ACTUALLY A RUDDY SKELETON!!

“Quite. Ah well, stiff upper lip then, Bertram.”

 

 

“Jinkies! That fifteen-footer that Chic’s hot-dogging… IS ACTUALLY A FLIPPED-OUT SKELETON!

 

 

“Oh man. Either I am tripping balls over here, or the Eastern face of Mount Rushmore… IS ACTUALLY A SKELETON!!

…And there’s also a witch over there by Jefferson, which is somehow even weirder.”

 

 

“Hey kid, watch out! That skeleton is ACTUALLY A–hey, wait a minute…”

 

The original “Actually a Skeleton” post from January 2006 can be found over on ISB Classic, and while I’m FREAKING OUT and the fact that there’s actually more than one surfing-themed skeleton cover, I’m not sure anything’s ever going to top “Dios Mio! Un esqueleto!”

Spooktoberfest Special: And Now…

A Brief Re-enactment of the Halloween Party Scene from
The Karate Kid, Starring the Cast of Jonah Hex #84:

 

 

The End

 


 

BONUS FEATURE: Behold! The Sims-O-Lantern!

Because really: What’s more terrifying for the local trick-or-treaters: A traditional triangle-eyed pumpkin face…

 

 

…or A BEAR HOLDING A SHARK?!

 

As faithful ISB readers might recall, the above image represents the second time that I’ve carved a pumpkin, and once again, I can highly recommend the pumpkin stencils at HomestarRunner.com, without which a Sims-crafted Bearshark O’Lantern would not have been possible.

Spooktoberfest Special: Halloween Havoc!

There’s no denying that some things just go great together. Chocolate and peanut butter, Lennon and McCartney, Power Man and Iron Fist; these are all things that came together to form something way more awesome than they were separately, and when I was a kid, I figured that the two great passions of my misspent youth–comic books and pro wrestling–would be a similar pairing.

Needless to say, I was wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong.

And it didn’t take the late-90s movement that brought us Nash and Chaos Comics Presents the Undertaker to show me the error of my ways either, because it’s a lesson I learned back in 1993 thanks to Marvel Comics and World Championship Wrestling:

 

 

And in a bit of personal history that just goes to prove that I grew up a wrestling fan in South Carolina, I actually picked my few issues of this thing up off the magazine rack of an honest-to-God bait shop on a family fishing trip to Lake Marion.

Anyway, if there was one thing you’d think comics could get right, it’s be dudes in spandex punching each other, but I’ll be honest: this thing sucks hard. Then again, that’s oddly appropriate, considering that it’s a tie-in to WCW’s Halloween Havoc, which was generally considered around my house to be the worst Pay-Per-View event of the year, every year.

This was, after all, the showcase of the awesomely terrible Chamber of Horrors match from 1991, wherein poor Mick Foley had to stand around the switch for an ersatz “electric chair” for like five minutes until Abdullah the Butcher finally got in the chair and did the best pretend-electrocution ever captured on Sports-Entertainment Television.

Oh well, coulda been worse, I guess. At least RoboCop didn’t show up for that one.

But like I was saying: Despite the fact that it was released in December (complete with a February cover date and a Yuletide greeting from then-EIC Tom DeFalco on the Bullpen page), it’s actually a Halloween tie-in, but even with the promise of Sting finally throwing down with his comic book nemesis, The Ghoul, the only thing even remotely spooky about this thing is how horrifyingly awful it is.

There is, however, one redeeming quality:

 

 

Yep: It opens with a double-page kick to the face. Admittedly, it’s a horribly drawn kick to the face on the late “Flyin’” Brian Pillman courtesy of artists Ron Wilson and Steve Montano, but at least Ron Simmons was involved. So you take what you can get, I guess.

But seriously: The art in this thing is awful, and considering that Wilson was the penciller on John Byrne’s The Thing not ten years before, it’s pretty shocking that it’s this bad. How bad, you ask?

 

 

So bad that the expression on his face doesn’t match up with the mirror.

 

Look, I’m not saying WCW #11 should stand out as the highlight of anyone’s artistic career or anything, but man.

Probably best to move on. After all, it’s not all about the horrible art! There’s also the horrible story to consider, a gripping tale of horror and intrigue by Mike Lackey that is undeniably terrible, but still better than at least half of Vince Russo’s work in the ’90s.

See, at this point in the comics, perennial good guy (and de facto star) Sting had been stricken with amnesia and brainwashed into becoming an evil version of himself (“The Black Stinger”) by none other than Terror, Inc.!

 

 

Whoops, sorry. Got my notes mixed up.

That’s actually The Ghoul, who claimed to be Sting’s trainer, who–after being cast to the wayside when his student rose to fame–exacted his amazingly complicated revenge scheme to turn everyone against Sting with the help of a flunky who looked suspiciously like Vince McMahon:

 

 

You know, I hate it when I miss the money shot.

Still, no man is an island, but with the entirety of the WCW locker room–here represented by luminaries like Van Hammer and Johnny B. Badd–turned against him, who could possibly show up to help Our (alleged) Hero?

For the answer, what I want right now is for all you fat, outta shape comics blog reading wannabes to sit down and shut up while I show you what a terrible drawing of a real man looks like!

 

 

Yes, the only man to ever appear on Nitro and Raw on the same night during the height of the Monday Night Wars, seen here making his comic book appearance as a deus ex machina in pink spandex. God bless you, Rick Rude.

Anyway, to make a long story short (too late!), Rude and Sting eventually punch the Ghoul hard enough that Sting gets his title back and everything works out okay…

 

 

…and then they promptly move on to worrying about their next big threat: A man so tough that he doesn’t shy away from wearing targets on his knees. It would’ve been an immensely satisfying ending to the whole shebang, if only I hadn’t realized even at eleven years old that it was without a doubt one of the worst comics I have ever read.

And yet, I still have a lot of nostalgic affection for it, for reasons that can probably be best be summed up by Sting himself:

 

 

Icing on the cake indeed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go bash myself in the head with a steel chair until this thing starts to make sense.

The Next Great Literary Masterpiece

Normally, I stick to talking about comics here on the ISB, but while I’ll break to talk about movies or video games every now and then, only twice before has it been my honor and my privilege to draw your attention to the greatest prose works of the twenty-first century.

Tonight, another instant classic joins that august lineup, but unlike Chuck Norris’s Western masterwork The Justice Riders or the landmark pro wrestling/espionage epic Big Apple Takedown, this latest work of unrivaled genius comes not in the form of a novel, but rather an unfinished short story. And even more surprising?

It has arisen from the world of fan-fiction.

Crossover fan-fiction.

Sharp-eyed ISB readers might recall from my recent shameless boosterism that I’ve been playing through Rockstar Games’ Bully again, and while I was looking around for a fan-site I saw once that explained all the room trophies, I stumbled upon what is undoubtedly the greatest piece of short fiction ever written.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

 

 

Yes: The Warriors.

You can click on the above picture to experience the magic for yourself, and really: I cannot recommend the experience highly enough. In two short chapters comprised of just over five hundred words, an author known only as “medayugiohman” has blown all other contemporary literature away, and there is nothing–nothing–I could add to make it better.

But that won’t stop me from pointing out a few of my favorite passages.

Take, for example, the introduction:

 

JIMMY!yelled young peter kowalski

Huh? what is it is someone giving you trouble?

no it’s the whole town there hurting.

Who is it?

Some gang i saw the back of there vests it said…The Warriors.

 

Right from the start, the author lets us know that we’re not dealing with your average story here. This is a story that, quite simply, doesn’t have time for things like description, setting, spacing at the end of sentences, attributing dialogue, or anything else the Ivory Tower of academia has declared as “necessary” to tell a story. No, this one hits the ground shouting and only stops for an ominous pause as Cleon and his crew are namechecked for the first time.

And then things just go nuts:

 

CHAPTER 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Has anyone in the history of the English Language ever had the balls to cap off a chapter break with eighteen exclamation points? I think not.

Suck it, Hemingway. Suck it hard.

 

(jimmy walks into the funhouse)

alright now you gotta fight.

(after fight)

pretty good now come to the docks and get ready to leave tomorrow.

okay.

 

One of the things you’ll notice right off the bat is that medayugiohman has taken a bold, minimalist approach to action sequences, which forces the reader to focus on his stark, Mametian dialogue. And it’s the right choice, too: Why waste time describing a thrilling, action-packed fight scene to your readers, when the one that plays out in their imaginations is no doubt superior to anything mere words–even those of a master like this one–could possibly capture?

 

hey jimmy why were you gone so long?asked petey.

initiation in a gang.Im leaving tomorrow.

WHAT!you cant leave ill be picked on an…

Dont worry i asked them and they said you could come.

Um…okay but what about russell he’ll probably destroy this pla…

he can come to.

okay then.

(the next day)

(russells dressed as a pirate and petey is in his bunny suit becausehe was in a hurry and didnt have time to put on his other clothes)

alright i kinda lied the boats gonna be here around 11pm tonight

oh so im in a bunny suit for nuthin.

Yep.

 

It’s in this section that I’ve found the only “problem” I’ve seen in the entire story, which is of course the idea of Petey showing up to depart in his bunny costume. To me, it seems like it would take longer to put on one’s Halloween costume rather than regular clothes, and I’m a little surprised that the author went with an odd visual gag (which, admittedly, still works beautifully in text) when the rest of his prose is so cerebral.

But perhaps I’m second-guessing it. With the story still unfinished, the possibility remains that Petey’s odd behavior (or perhaps… deception?) will be explored in the future.

For now though, it remains, like all great literature, open to interpretation in a way that hearkens back to James Joyce’s watershed Transformers / Jem and the Holograms crossover, Synergys Wake.

Experience the magic for yourself, won’t you?

The Lost Week In Ink: October 17, 2007

Under normal circumstances, this would be the space where you’d find my hard-hitting reviews of this week’s comics, but since I’ve been staying home this week to take care of my mom while she recovers from her bypass (which is going very well), I haven’t been to work or managed to pick up any of my comics.

Admittedly, at this point I could probably write reviews without ever seeing the actual books (and chances are, most of you are surprised to find out this isn’t how I do things normally), and Tug even offered to call up and read me a page of each one over the phone to give me something to go from, but here at the ISB, we pride our journalistic integrity above all else.

Of course, deciding to hold off this week did leave me with something of a dilemma, but maybe that could be better explained by a series of sequential images:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s pretty much how my night went.

Reviews’ll be back next week, but until then, just go find out what I said about ‘em last month and assume that it all applies. Except, of course, for Jamie McKelvie’s Suburban Glamour, which I think we can all agree is probably totally awesome.

 

The above post–apparently conceived in an effort to thoroughly alienate my readership–was inspired of course by Nintendo’s absolutely fantastic Elite Beat Agents, wherein it is revealed that only the music of David Bowie can solve our fossil fuel crisis.