Everybody loves advertising mascots! Granted, kids may not fully appreciate mascots trying to convince them to eat things they think are terrible. They’ll follow those characters’ extremely short cartoons, but stop short of paying attention to their endorsement. In that sense, the Jolly Green Giant is one of those heroic hucksters who may appeal more to nostalgic adults with broader palates than to kids who don’t understand why they never get to see him stomping on bank robbers. Sure, the Green Giant could use his powers for good rather than for capitalism, but then he’d be taking valuable jobs away from our hard-working police forces. Also, good luck trying to convince him to wear a body-cam.
It’s that time again! This week I turned 46 without entering true Midlife Crisis mode yet, and managed not to whine about it or to start browsing prices for sports cars. My frequent sleeping issues, my imperfect hearing, my inadequate eyesight, and my everyday aches and pains all seem at about the same level as last year, which means technically I haven’t lose any ground from a health standpoint, as long as I continue ignoring my receding hairline and avoiding weighing myself. Every glance in the mirror is a reminder of the uncoolness slowly overtaking me and threatening to consume me whole by the time I retire, which is why mirrors should be illegal.
For the past several years my wife and I have made a tradition of going somewhere new for each of our birthdays. For me last year, it was Motor City Comic Con up in Novi, MI. For Anne last year, it was the Fanboy Expo Totally Awesome Weekend down in Knoxville, TN. Now it’s my turn. That’ll be Saturday, and it won’t be a convention this time, but as a prologue we did dinner with my mom on Thursday night at a great local establishment that no one ever talks about, that my family and coworkers had never heard of, and I don’t understand why not.
Once upon a time in 2007, I chaperoned a field trip to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Thanks to terrible traffic, we had exactly one (1) hour to see as much of the museum as we could before we had to board the bus and get the kids all the way back to their parents in Indianapolis. My small group, all boys, walked as briskly as they could without getting yelled at by docents, zipping from one exhibit to the next, which I’d chosen from the museum map in a series of deft but hasty hunches. It was a fun hour, but we saw less than 10% of the total museum.
Two years later, it was time for an encore. Same museum. Slightly more time to spare. Much, much worse traffic.
Anne and I were saddened today to hear of the passing of Margot Kidder, the definitive Lois Lane of our generation. Much has been said and will be said around the internet and in the media for days to come. We had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Kidder less than a year ago at the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL. We always talk about the actors and other personalities we’d love to meet before it was too late. In this particular case, for this amazing woman, we had no idea we were cutting it so close.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on May 5th I once again had the pleasure of once again observing Free Comic Book Day, the least fake holiday of them all, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or entertaining ordinary folk. Each year, America’s remaining comic book shops (and a handful in the UK that can afford the extra shipping charges) lure fans and curious onlookers inside their brick-and-mortar hideaways with a great big batch of free new comics from all the major publishers and a bevy of smaller competitors deserving shelf space and consideration.
This year my Free Comic Book Day involvement took on a different form. My local shop offered a special deal that sounds crazy on the face of it: for a fair sum of money, we could pre-purchase a bundle of all 52 Free Comic Book Day comics that their stores planned to order. Normally these would all be free, but you’d look like a schmuck for casually walking in, picking up all 52, and walking right back out. Instead they set aside copies of all those comics, bagged ’em up, and let buyers pick them up late Saturday afternoon, once all the furor and hubbub had subsided. I went for it. I liked the idea of playing the role of patron, donating extra cash to help facilitate Free Comic Book Day for other folks in town, in a way that would help my shop offset the costs.
I spent the rest of Saturday night and nearly all of Sunday reading all 52 and then posting my impressions on Twitter after each comic, along with photo excerpts from every single comic. I took photos rather than scans because (a) our scanner sometimes ruins the hard work of comics colorists, (b) I wanted to capture the feel of comics on actual physical paper, (c) I wanted to test my new phone, and (d) snapping pics was faster than scanning. This reading/photography project took until 11:30 p.m Sunday night to complete, and would’ve taken until sometime Tuesday if I hadn’t cut corners somewhere. I had to put this entry off for a few days because I needed a break after spending so, so much time with them all.
This entry, then, is a condensed version of that epic-length tweetstorm: my ranking of the twenty best books of the bunch, followed by my six least favorites of the entire stack. I never trust a comics reviewer or website that shares nothing but relentlessly glowing opinions — nor, conversely do I trust a critic who hates all comics and can’t be pleased — so this is my way of not becoming that which I disparage.
Up first: that happy Top 20. On with the countdown!
Dinosaurs! Every kid loves dinosaurs! The one we brought with us was a teenager, but still.
Also in this episode: mummies!
Too bad we couldn’t really present you with a big crossover event featuring dinosaurs fighting mummies. Sadly, today’s museums have their limitations. Perhaps someday the technology and permissiveness will be there.