Monday, June 29, 2015

Free Download - Flashback Team Up - So Falls The World!

It gives me great pleasure to present today a NEW Flashback Universe Comic! Free to download by clicking the image or link below. This issue features at titanic team up between the Creature and Wildcard as scripted by charismatic Chris Sims and wonderfully rendered by gentleman Jerry Hinds.

Download Flashback Team Up - So Falls The World!

If you are a fan of Bronze Age Action, you'll love the story Chris and Jerry have worked up for you! It's a loving homage to all those fantastic done in one Marvel Team Ups and Marvel Two-in-One stories. You won't see any lazy decompressed storytelling here. It's all fun and adventure from start to finish!

Check out some of these amazing action scenes:

To learn more about both Chris and Jerry, feel free to read these creator profiles from the FBU Archives:

Chris Sims Creator Profile
Jerry Hinds Creator Profile

Let us know what you thought of this issue in the comments section down below.

- Jim

Monday, June 22, 2015

HeroesCon 2015 - ComicBlitz! and Babs Tarr

I've just returned from HeroesCon 2015 where I met a lot of great creators and vendors, one of which I'm eager to share with you: ComicBlitz! As leaked last week on Bleeding Cool, ComicBlitz is a new digital comics platform that promises to bring a Netflix approach to reading digital comics. For $9.99, you will be able to read an unlimited number of comics on their application.

I was able to get a video interview with Jordan Plosky, the founder of ComicBlitz where I ask him for details about how the service will work. Check out the short (4 mins) video below:

Some of the key details he shared with me were:

  • There will be a mechanism to save books for offland reading
  • There will be a time delay between same day comic akin to that of trade paperbacks
  • Dynamite and Valiant are already signed up for the Beta, but more comics will be added when the product goes live
  • There are plans to have original content on the platform down the line
If you are interested in participating in the ComicBlitz beta test, sign up at their site.

Note: I'm dressed in cosplay as Davial as my daughter Haigen was dressed as Malificient (see below)

As I mentioned, we met a lot of great creators. One Haigen was especially anxious to meet was Babs Tarr, the artist of the new Batgirl comic!

While the comic may have its detractors among long time collectors, I can definitely say without hesitation that DC has been successful in retooling Batgirl for a younger generation. Haigen bought the graphic novel last weekend after pouring  over a stack of comics at Punk Monkey Comics and she was instantly drawn to the new Batgirl trade paperback. When we got to Heroescon a week later, I was surprised to discover that Haigen had taken it upon herself to bring the grahic novel along in hopes of getting it signed.

Babs was super nice at the convention. She answered Haigen's questions, signed her trade paperback and suggested the posed picture you see above. This was definitely one of the highlights of the con for Haigen.

I had a great time too and met a few vendors who publish comics which I think will definitely appeal to readers of this site, but that post will have to comic later this week as I'm under a time crunch today. (Look for it around Wednesday or Thursday)

- Jim

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

(Top) 10 Things About David Letterman — Good Night, Everybody!

A Little Counting Music, Please ...
Ten ... Nine ... Eight ... Seven ... Six ... Five ... Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... and Good Night

Thanks for sticking with me through this day-long reflection on David Letterman's career.  Here's the whole list in one place for easy navigation:
  1. Worldwide Pants
  2. Everyone Is a Star
  3. Freaks and Geeks
  4. Impeccable Timing
  5. The Anti-Show
  6. Biting the Hand That Feeds Him
  7. Top Ten Lists
  8. Real Journalism
  9. The DIY Ethos
  10. When Things Got Real
Similar things were said about Johnny Carson when he retired, and I know detractors tire of hearing them, but:  It really is impossible to overestimate the influence and importance of David Letterman to television.  If nothing else, he's been on every weeknight for most Americans entire TV-watching lifetime.

Late Night was once the title of a single quirky program that aired after the The Tonight Show.  Now it's an entire genre that comprises Tonight itself and a host of competing programs.

Many of these shows rely on guest- and audience-participation games, something Letterman pioneered.  In 1993, NBC lawyers may have tried, with a straight face, to claim that talk-show games were their intellectual property.  If they tried that now, they'd be laughed out of the room with the same vigor Letterman's CBS audiences showed when Dave rolled his eyes as said the words intellectual property.

The apex of late-night games remains Letterman's "Is This Anything?" — an outgrowth of "Will It Float?" that consisted of an enormous curtain opening to great fanfare and Letterman and Shaffer passing judgment on whether the thing behind the curtain (animal, vegetable, mineral, or, most often, showbiz act) was something or nothing.

"Is This Anything?" was David Letterman's shtick in microcosm.  And, man, was it ever something.

— Scott

(Top) 10 Things About David Letterman — Number One: When Things Got Real!

A Little Counting Music, Please ...
Ten ... Nine ... Eight ... Seven ... Six ... Five ... Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... and Good Night

Photo by Susan Wood.  via
Letterman is never more memorable than when his show stops being a show (or even an anti-show) entirely.  In these moments, the veil drops, and audiences glimpse the David Letterman behind the ironic TV persona.  Sometimes slack-jawed, sometimes annoyed, sometimes unexpectedly sincere, this is the Letterman who breathes life into the TV host façade.

This is the Letterman Drew Barrymore flashed and Crispin Glover nearly kicked in the face.

More significantly, he's the one who brought Bill Hicks's mother onto the show in 2009 to apologize for cutting her son's appearance on the show back in 1993.  (The Late Show was new to both CBS and 11:30 at the time, and Letterman found Hicks's material, violent and rife with political incorrectness, problematic.  In 2009, he acknowledges that as a mistake brought on by his own insecurity.)

He's the one who devoted an episode to Warren Zevon following the musician's death.  (Zevon had been a regular guest on Late Night and had subbed in for Paul Shaffer.)

He later did the same to commemorate the passing of his comedic mentor Johnny Carson, the guests for that episode being Tonight Show alums Peter Lassally and Doc Severinsen.

Most humanly of all, this is the Letterman who admitted to having affairs with members of his own staff in order to cut short an extortion attempt.  The details were deliciously seedy, but Letterman managed to blend his on-air and off-air personas in a funny, defiant, and penitent on-air confession.

It was simultaneously his finest hour and his lowest ebb.  No matter what you thought of the man behind the curtain during that segment, you had to admit you were watching riveting television.  Which, when all is said and done, is what Letterman always delivered.

Thanks for indulging my Top Ten reflections on David Letterman.  Come back at the top of the hour for a few closing thoughts and a round-up of links to the individual posts.  (In case you've been playing along on social media, we'll make sure these links that actually work.)

— Scott

(Top) 10 Things About David Letterman — Number Two: The DIY Ethos!

A Little Counting Music, Please ...
Ten ... Nine ... Eight ... Seven ... Six ... Five ... Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... and Good Night

Giant doorknob aside, Letterman's no prop comic — but he knows how to get a laugh with whatever's handy.

The same way he roped staff and neighbors into bit parts on the show, he built legendary routines around items from the studio closet.

Chief among these were the wacky suits.  Letterman had more specialty outfits through the 1980s than Iron Man did in the '90s (and Iron Man had a toy line!).  I could embed suit videos all day, but instead I'll recommend you click here to visit the blog Rediscover the '80s, which has the most comprehensive collection of them I could find.

Dropping things off the roof.  Crushing things with a steamroller or an industrial hydraulic press.  (Breaking things, it turned out, was the perfect pastime for a show breaking the television format.)  Throwing pencils.  Actually taping the show at 4 o'clock in the morning.  Strapping cameras to himself, Paul, guestsaudience members, Vegas showgirlswater hoses, and, yes, monkeys.

The camera was a favorite tool in Letterman's arsenal.  Rather than insisting on its invisibility, he brought the camera to the fore whenever possible, filling interstitials with roller coaster-style Thrill Cam rides and even doing an episode of Late Night where the camera rotated 360° over the course of the show (to many viewers' annoyance).

The one thing these high-concept shows had in common wasn't performance art but something much more low-brow.  These were things you might do if you had a television camera, an audience, and the social capital to ask someone to let you do them.  They were another way Letterman let the audience in on the joke, said joke usually being, "TV is dumb, but it's fun."

On a couple of occasions, he engineered shows where applause determined which gags and props got used. (Consider for a moment how much effort went into taping and having all the unused segments on hand.  These weren't cheap laughs, no matter how it appeared.)  Building the show out of whatever was on hand made having a late-night show feel like something you could (almost) do at home.

Perhaps the best-remembered of these breaking-the-format shows occurred during a 1985 New York City heatwave, when Late Night decided to forego a studio audience and shoot the show in their offices rather than on the set.  I doubt television can break the fourth wall more decisively than this episode, which opens with Letterman reading jokes from his monologue with show writers — to neither audience reaction nor musical cues.  (Paul Shaffer is standing in the hall before they realize he should be making some sort of sound to accompany the zingers.)

Brilliant as these innovations are, they're not why the episode is fondly remembered, largely by middle-aged men.  That honor belong to guest Teri Garr, a staple of Late Night who might be better described as part of the recurring cast than as a recurring guest.  Garr had proven game for many of Letterman's shenanigans, engaging in awkward flirtations that may have been put-ons or may not have.  Whatever lay behind the banter, Letterman bordered on the inappropriate with Garr, one time passing her a note during a taping that became a notorious cornerstone of armchair psychologists' analysis of him.

The creeper-sweet infatuation he cultivated was never funnier than during the heatwave show, when he attempted to convince Garr to take a shower on the program.  Uncomfortable, titillating, and hilarious in ways that build over the course of the hour, this is an episode that could only have existed at the forlorn end of the broadcast day.  In 2015, it retains a surreal quality that might make you think you'd imagined it if it couldn't be found on YouTube.

Coming up:  Number one on our homemade Top Ten list!

— Scott

(Top) 10 Things About David Letterman — Number Three: Real Journalism!

A Little Counting Music, Please ...
Ten ... Nine ... Eight ... Seven ... Six ... Five ... Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... and Good Night

David Letterman — a journalist?

Absolutely.  A nightly interview show will do that to you, whether anyone expects it or not.  By CBS's count, Letterman has interviewed 19,932 guests on The Late Show alone.  Consider he was on Late Night 11 years before that and The David Letterman Show six months before that, and you rack up a guesstimate of interviews in the tens of thousands.  Even if 95% were softball celebrity puff pieces, Letterman's still talked to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 pundits, politicians, writers, and scientists.

And he hasn't rolled over and played dead for them.  Letterman's been as challenging and demanding with Presidents as with celebrities, and that's no mean feat.  Appearances by Fox News's Bill O'Reilly following the invasion of Iraq became instant highlights because of the two's combative chemistry — and because Letterman both asked and answered questions you didn't expect to see a host grappling with.

Letterman did more than answer questions from his talk-show chair.  One week after September 11, 2001, The Late Show set the tone for entertainment programming returning to normal.  New York City's ambassador to the rest of America for two decades, Letterman gave voice to the city's perseverance, gratitude, and overwhelming sense of loss.

Given the scuttlebutt CBS may want him to host high-profile interview specials, we may not have seen the last of Letterman the interviewer.

— Scott

(Top) 10 Things About David Letterman — Number Four: Top Ten Lists!

A Little Counting Music, Please ...
Ten ... Nine ... Eight ... Seven ... Six ... Five ... Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... and Good Night

Letterman's Top Ten lists were such a fixture of both late-night shows that almost no one remembers they were a late-comer.

Letterman read the first one on September 18, 1985.  To put that into context, imagine there's a classic bit of Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show shtick Fallon has yet to invent; on the Top Ten list timeline, that bit is still more than two years out.  There's no mention of the iconic Top Ten list in Avengers #239 because it didn't exist yet.

When Letterman left NBC after being passed up as a replacement for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1993, the network claimed most of the recurring routines on Late Night were the intellectual property of NBC — including the Top Ten list.

In the months between his last broadcast on NBC and the premiere of The Late Show on CBS, commentators were nervous what an 11:30 Letterman without Top Ten lists, special suits, a never-seen home office, Stupid Pet Tricks, and throwing things off the roof would look like.  More nervous than modern audiences are about an out-of-character Stephen Colbert.

"Intellectual property" became a buzzword in an America where the combination of those two words was still inherently funny.  That's almost impossible to imagine now.

Fans needn't have worried.  Letterman replied to NBC's claim on the Top Ten by saying it couldn't belong to NBC since he had plagiarized it from somewhere else.  He threw watermelons off the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater, joking that if NBC came after him, maybe they would also go after teenagers on overpasses.  When his mother appeared on the show, he even quipped that he might have to call her "Dorothy" since "Dave's mom" was the intellectual property of NBC.

And maybe it's just me — I've never heard anyone else say this — but isn't #4 (sometimes #3) on the Top Ten list always the funniest, usually the punchline to the whole Top Ten bit, with #s 2 and 1 serving as comedic dénouement?

— Scott


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