The 2008 30 Second Recap Contest!

Well, it’s the end of December, and as is my custom around this time, I’m taking the next few days off so that I can get tore up from the floor up without having to make a joke about ROM properly ring in the New Year! I’ll be back on January 6 to celebrate the ISB’s fourth Awesomeversary–jeez, have I seriously been at this for four years?–but until then, you’re on your own.

Never let it be said, however, that I took off without offering a little something in return, and while there’s plenty of fun to be had at the Action Age if you haven’t been there already–with more stuff coming soon… like, tomorrow soon–it’s also time for the traditional year-end 30 Second Recap Contest!

Here’s how it works: Pick a comic story and do a condensed version in the style of the 30 Second Recap posts I’ve done for stuff like Infinite Crisis, Civil War, Secret Invasion, and of course, Bring It On! Then just post it on your own blog, website, Flickr account LiveJournal or whatever and leave a comment on this post telling folks how to find it, or email it to me if you don’t have one of those fine, free services. Just make sure you get it to me by Midnight Eastern time, January 5 (Sunday night/Monday morning) so that I can read over them on Monday and pick the one I like the most for the return on the sixth.

The winner will get a “Fabulous” Prize Package consisting of stuff that I have laying around here, including a signed (by me) copy of Teenagers from the Future, a terrible drawing of a character of your choice (also by me), and other random delights that I haven’t quite settled on. Rest assured, though: There’ll probably be a Cobra Commander involved.

And now…


1. Artwise, your entry doesn’t have to look good, because lord knows mine don’t. It won’t hurt if it looks nice, but shoddy art is both accepted and encouraged. Along the same lines, you don’t necessarily have to use crayons (MS Paint has a similar effect), but you have to draw your entry yourself.

2. For lettering, you can do it by hand if you can write legibly, but feel free to head over to Blambot and use one of their free comic book lettering fonts! As always the use of Comic Sans will result in an immediate disqualification.

3. Content is up to you: Despite me calling it the year-end recap contest, your subject does not have to be a story from this year. The only restriction is that it can’t be a story that hasn’t finished yet. By the nature of the contest, spoilers are par for the course, so if you’re planning on spectating this year, take that into account. Otherwise, go nuts. Heck, you can even go after a 22 year-old classic of comics literature if you want!



4. The key factor here is brevity, so entires should be no longer than ten panels. I’m not going to throw out something that has eleven or twelve if it’s funny and well-done, but try to keep it short.

5. If you post your entry somewhere, make sure that there’s some way for me to contact you if you win.

And that’s it! If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out the previous contests, 2007 and 2006, and I’ll see you in 2009!

Well How Else Would He Do It?

Originally, my plan for tonight was to do a bit of a longer post, but I got caught up in reading my new copy of Bat-Manga!, and brother, that thing’ll eat a couple of hours like nobody’s business.

I mentioned this thing back when it was solicited, but for those of you who missed it, Bat-Manga! is Chip Kidd’s big book of Japanese Batman stuff from the sixties, based in large part around Jiro Kuwata’s manga. And needless to say, given that it manages to combine the craziness of ’60s Batman with the insanity of manga, this thing is flat-out awesome, despite the controversy that arose from the fact that Kidd didn’t credit Kuwata–whose work as a writer and artist makes up somewhere around 90% of the book–on the cover.

To be fair, I can’t imagine there’s any malice behind it: There’s never an attempt made to hide the fact that these are Kuwata’s stories, as he gets a shout-out in Kidd’s dedication (which calls him “the master”) and on the back flap. But, and this is a “but” so big that Sir Mix-a-Lot could write a song about it, his name’s not on the cover or the title page, which, considering that it lists the guy who arranged the pages, the guy who photographed the pages, and the people who translated them, makes a pretty big omission in not mentioning the guy who wrote and drew them in the first place. And again, this is Chip Kidd. He designs books for a living. It’s not like he doesn’t know how important a mention on the cover is.

To make matters worse, when he was called out on it by Comic Foundry‘s Laura Hudson, his reaction got pretty defensive–or at least, that’s how it seemed to me–and featured him railing against the “culture of blogger snark,” as well as bunch of defenders on that bastion of class, Newsarama, including one hilarious guy who claimed that book designer Chip Kidd was a bigger draw than, you know, Batman.

Long story short (too late!): Kidd claimed that Kuwata’s name being left off wasn’t a slight, but just a reflection of the fact that the manga was only one part of a larger work that included all kinds of Batman-related pop culture ephemera. But, considering that the manga’s a big enough part of it that the title of the book is Bat-MANGA, the promise of a reprint of Kuwata’s work was the major selling point of the solicitation, and that Internet luminaries like Chris Sims think that the pictures of weird old Japanese toys are just another obstacle to flip past on your way to the next page of Batman’s fight with Lord Death Man, his argument doesn’t hold a lot of water.

Credits aside, though, the book is great. I could go on about how the stories–reproduced from photographs of the original yellowed pages with blocky, sans-serif lettering to give it a retro feel that works really well–are exactly the kind of madness that you want from sixties Japanese Batman stories. But really, all you need to see is this:




How the Batman Saved Christmas!

With Christmas Eve finally upon us and most of the presents safely tucked under the tree, there might be a few of you wondering what I want for Christmas this year. Well, as we all know from the Saturn Knight story, Christmas isn’t just about getting stuff, but if I was pressed, I’d have to admit that there’s one thing I’d really like to see this year.

And that is Batman.

Kicking a bear in the face.

On Christmas.

But, well, that’s pretty specific to my taste, so really… what’re the odds of that showing up?




It’s a story that could only be told in the pages of 1976’s Batman #285, also known as The Greatest Comic Book of All Time. So great, in fact, that I’d originally just automatically assumed it was by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo, because really, it’s Batman in a Christmas Tree fighting a bear, and that’s got Haney written all over it. But while Aparo does provide the cover, it’s actually David Reed, Romeo Tanghal and Frank Springer who bring us this tale of holiday cheer.

So here’s how it goes down:



All the people in Gotham liked Christmas a lot. But Dr. Tzin-Tzin, imprisoned in Arkham… did not.

Was it maybe because he’d lost too many fights? Or because Batman had trapped him with noise and bright lights?



Was there even a reason? Were there maybe a million? All that matters right now is that this guy’s the villain.

But at least he’s locked up… Oh, right, this is Arkham, where they’re out of the cells just as soon as they park ’em.

Before long, he’s escaped without doing his time, and he sets about plotting a Holiday crime!



“It’s insanely special!” said the man with the cowl, “He’s going to stop Christmas from coming… but how?

Tzin-Tzin had an idea. An awesome idea. Dr. Tzin-Tzin had a terrible, awesome idea!

He’d pray to his dark gods! He’d unleash his magic! He’d make sure this Christmas was nothing but tragic!

“I’ll now have my vengeance! He’ll fall before me! I’ll make Batman fight a bear… IN A HUGE CHRISTMAS TREE!”



But Batman, as we know, won’t go out like a punk. Just ask Riddler, the Joker, Scarecrow and Mad Monk.

So the bear’s taken out, but as Bats gets reflective, he sees the whole city was Tzin-Tzin’s objective!



He’s stolen their Christmas! He’s stolen their thoughts! All the holiday cheer from the Haves and Have-Nots!

They don’t know they should party at the big Christmas Bash! Why, they can’t even remember to serve the Bat-Hash!



All but Batman it seems, have forgotten the season, and now we can see Tzin-Tzin’s plan has a reason:

He doesn’t just want to make the Batman pay… He wants him to suffer alone Christmas Day!

Clearly, he forgot how much rage Batman has to be fed. I mean, jeez, Doc… the guy’s friggin’ parents are dead!

And that’s why Bruce Wayne cannot suffer in silence, so like so many things… this one calls for some violence.



Thus, Christmas is saved, and we all learn a little, so keep this in mind if your spirit gets brittle:

Maybe Christmas, it seems, doesn’t come from a place. But from inside your heart…

…or a kick to the face.