Offensive, harrassing or baiting comments will not be tolerated and will be deleted at my discretion.
Comment spam will be deleted.
Please leave a name and either a valid web-site or e-mail address with comments. Comments left without either a valid web-site or e-mail address may be deleted. Atom Feed LiveJournal SyndicationLOLcats feed
Finding myself with an excess of time on my hands over the weekend, I used it to sit down and watch some "under $5" DVDs I'd purchased recently, of films that I felt deserved to be in my collection, Alien and An American Werewolf in London. They're both good films (for varying degrees of "good") that I enjoy, but I'd never really placed them highly on my list of favorites. Taking the opportunity to watch them again, after not seeing either in probably at least ten years, offered a chance to reappraise them.
Now, I probably would have to say that Werewolf is the better film of the two. It has flaws, to be certain. It's better as a horror film with some darkly comic moments than as a comedy with some horrific moments. In retrospect, the inclusion of the continually decaying Griffin Dunne as the undead Jack never really works. I can see that it's a gag that writer/director Landis thought was unique and clever, but it just doesn't gell in the final film. Supernatural horror is tricky enough to pull off, and while a back-packing American turning into a werewolf just about falls into "suspension of disbelief" range, to have him haunted by zombies as well is just pushing things too far.
But apart from that, the film largely works. Most of the comedy comes believably from the characters reacting to their situations, and the horrific parts are suitably frightening. David Naughton gives a particularly good performance as a young man, cut off from his family and friends, in an unfamiliar place, who has suffered great trauma and is not quite sure if what he suspects is happening to him is really happening of if he's losing his mind. The film also features one truly masterful sequence. And while the absolute carnage that takes place in Piccadilly Circus is thrilling and proof, as if any is needed, that one doesn't need hordes of monsters to create a serious and credible threat to a large number of people, it's the stalking of the commuter in the subway station where the film truly is most successful in creating a sense of terror and dread and unease.
Somehow I had managed to see this film in theaters upon it's initial release. I'm still not sure how I managed that. My parents were fairly lax about letting me see R rated films, with horror films being the particular exception to that rule. I know I did see horror films as a child (Jaws is the first film I have memory of seeing in a theater), mostly with my father, but all I can think is that my dad heard of John Landis's involvement with this film and assumed it would be more in line with something like Blues Brothers or Animal House, and that the adult jokes would simply go over my head. Also, in seeing the film as an adult, I think I've pinpointed this as the moment werewolves became my supernatural monster of choice. Granted, as an adult the symbolism of werewolves appeals to me more than that of vampires or ghosts or witches, but as a pre-gay kid, I strongly suspect that the frequent nudity of David Naughton in this film helped cement the appeal for me.
A film I most definitely was not allowed to see in the theater was Alien. Watching it now, it's both better and worse than I remembered it being. It's better, in that it takes a lot of those elements that I tend to associate with the auteur-influenced methods of film-making popularized in the seventies; shots that are held for a prolonged period, a very slow and deliberately paced plot, naturalistic dialogue and acting, and a biting and somewhat cynical world view, and applies them to the science-fiction genre. And as a science-fiction film, Alien is definitely one of the classics. As a horror film, it's a bit of a mess. Partly that's because a creature we don't know anything about or understand killing off people with little to no personality one by one isn't particularly scary or terrible. It's just about half of a plot. But still, it's the only good film in the Alien series, and far and away better than the jingoistic militarism of Aliens.
Another thing that becomes more noticeable about Alien upon rewatching is that, despite Sigourney Weaver's Lt. Ripley frequently being cited as the premier strong female lead so often cited as lacking in action, sci-fi and horror films...she's not. Not really. Ripley is a strong character, absolutely, but she feels like a stronger woman than she really is because the only other female character in the film is the prone to hysterics Lambert. Apart from going back to save the cat, a remarkably human moment for a character that up to now has been portrayed as being preoccupied with rules and regulations (as evidenced by her willingness to leave Kane on the surface of the planet rather than break quarantine and her head-butting with Ash over protocol violations), Ripley is largely indistinguishable from her male co-workers. She's pretty much of the "man with breasts" school of "strong" female characters, an impression heightened when you consider that screen-writer Dan O'Bannon allegedly wrote the roles in the film as unisex. That still didn't prevent Ridley Scott from devoting an extended sequence in the film to watching Ripley strip. Still, given that most sci-fi/horror/fantasy fans are of the types that see something like Buffy as a deep feminist statement, maybe Ripley isn't so bad at that.
It's frustratingly difficult to find good, gay themed erotic comics. Oh, sure, there's a seemingly endless flood of yaoi titles on the racks, if you like your men adolescent and wispy and strictly conforming to heteronormative gender roles. There are some good European comics, but one of the few outstanding American contributions to the genre was Dale Lazarov's and Steve MacIsaac's Sticky. And so I was really pleased to find that Lazarov has a new work, due out in early November from Bruno Gmunder, Manly, a new collection of word-less short stories with collaborator Amy Colburn on art.
The challenge with word-less comics, primarily, is that the art must be especially expressive, to convey both emotion and plot clearly. Colburn's art is very expressive, with clear, nicely laid out pages that allow the story to flow smoothly. I'm particularly taken with her faces. She is very deft at portraying, in particular, lust and embarrassment in a way that makes the characters very relatable and recognizable. It's also very appealing that the character and body types are extremely varied throughout the work. This is typically my number one complaint about gay porn comics; that everyone looks the same. That is certainly not the case here, with a physically and ethnically diverse cast that seems certain to include at least one character that appeals to a reader with a specific "type" to look for in their porn comics.
The pairing of Colburn's art with Lazarov's stories is particularly successful. Lazarov displays a knack here for creating situations with strong erotic potential that nonetheless manage to resolve in a manner displaying a sly sense of humor. The characters are never mocked, but the slightly comic elements to their experiences is suitably explored, giving a human warmth to the stories and keeping them from being purely mechanical displays of position and technique. Not that those are skimped on, either. The stories, frankly, are hot.
Manly is an 80 page hard-cover to be published in November by Bruno Gmunder. It is available for pre-order at Amazon, with a retail price of $25.99. If you're looking for good gay porn comics, this is one of the best yet. Witty stories and sexy art combined in a fantastic combination.
So, there's this Avengers/Invaders book coming out. And it looks like it might be okay. Kind of fun, and it's get Steve Sadowski on art.
But, lately, a certain number of funs have been getting antsy over any suggestion of males with external genitalia in comics Alex Ross is involved in... And, honestly, given the sorts of things they're complaining about, it's quite clear that they don't know what the hell they're talking about.
Luckily, the free preview of Avengers/Invaders you can pick up at your local comic book shop does feature some drawings of super-heroes with bulges that actually, you know, bulge.
Just when I thought we had finally put that nonsense behind us once and for all, Crotch Fear rears it's ugly head once again. Unsurprisingly, this time it's another Alex Ross cover that has led fanboys to the uncomfortable realization that men have external genitalia.
Here's the cover, so that we have an idea of what the hell they're going on about.
And here's what they had to say about it, in a thread titled "What's the deal with Alex Ross, JSA and penises?:"
Why are you looking?
Of course Ross will throw in some pantyless snatch from time-to-time, so it all evens out
Maybe he is teh ghey.
I think Alex Ross is repressing something.
That's some lovely gay-baiting, innit?
To be fair, unlike the last time this nonsense reared it's head, most people acknowledge that it's not a big deal that Alan Scott isn't a Ken doll, but there's still that element of shock that some people seem to get at the merest suggestion of a penis in a picture. I know a lot of straight men labor under this belief that their penis is the only one in the world, and that's why everyone wants it, and the suggestion that there are other ones out there sends them into an existential panic, but come on...this is what people think an erect penis looks like?
That is not an erect penis; that's an intense, soft light shining on reflective material. Ross if far from one of my favorite artists, but technically he's very good, and all he's done there is a very slight suggestion of an absolutely normal pants bulge on a man. It's nothing to be excited about.
Here, this is what an erect penis looks like:
You'll notice they appear to be pointing in one direction. If Alan Scott is pointing with that tiny bulge, and comic fans think that's a big penis, then the significant others of comic fans must be very disappointed.
The producers of the upcoming Wolverine solo film have decided, in light of the negative critical and fan reaction to the third X-Men film, to high-light Hugh Jackman's musical theater abilities and the gay subtext of the X-franchise:
I love covers. I love Disney. I...am okay...with Tim Curry.
So, you know how some people keep insisting that manga is the great hope of the comics industry, because the lack of sexism and misogyny won't drive new readers away the way super-hero comics allegedly do? (And how those of us who have been reading manga for longer than the current shojo boom hear this sort of thing, and just shake our heads?) Well, I bought Ral Grad, the new manga from Death Note artist Takeshi Obata. And while it's twisted in the ways I usually like I'm not sure I'll be picking up any future volumes.
That sort of thing? All over the damn book. Hell, Ral's primary motivation to become a hero is so that he'll have ample opportunity to grope women. This was published by Viz, as part of their Shonen Jump line. So it's a kid's comics.
And I'm not calling for a ban on the comic, or hoping to prompt an outcry, or anything like that. I'd just like to take this opportunity to remind people that, you know, Japanese comics are just as bad, if not worse, than American comics when it comes to the whole sexism thing.
And on a lighter note:
So, the message for this ad seems to be: if I use their product, I'll miss out on seeing hot guys make out. Yeah, I think I'll go without Bluetooth accessories for my phone a bit longer, in that case.
One of the quirks of online fandoms is their...interesting attitude towards the truth. When a fan says something is "true" it doesn't necessarily mean what a non-fan might think it means. So, as a public service, and with pretty pictures to help make the lesson more interesting, in ascending order from "least true" to "most true" in the eyes of fans, I present:
Why, yes, they are in the right order. These are fans remember...
All Star Superman #9: Man, I never would have seen the death of Superman coming, nor his elevation to godhood. What a completely unexpected twist. Too bad there are no utterly infallible online gossip columns with 100% accuracy records to have given us clues about that... Oh, and I'm sure this will be a permanent and forever change to the Superman status quo, as well.
Batman and the Outsiders #1: Finally, Batman is being written as he was always meant to be written: as a homophobic prick.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier: After the last two volumes, and the edgy Lost Girls, I think it was quite shocking to discover that this latest volume is a completely sincere and serious examination of the history of British children's television. I had no idea there was a secret connection between the Wombles, Balamory and Danger Mouse. Nor that it was so sinister in nature.
Amory Wars #4: Not only does this book completely justify the oft-mocked and long-neglected genre of "comics based on lyrics", but it completely justifies prog-rock as well!
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4: Now this was an unexpected change of direction. I don't know, maybe it's me, but based on the previous volumes, I think having Scott realize the vapidity of his hipster lifestyle and become the figurehead of a mass-murdering cult...it's a bit of a darker turn than I think the series needed to go in.
This year's ad for the Folsom Street Fair (site probably NSFW) has generated some controversy. Well, I say it's generated controversy. Really, the only significant complaints I've found have been from the (male) spokesman of the Concerned Women of America, Matt Barber, who said of the ad "Scripture says that God is not mocked, yet it doesn't stop people from trying. As evidenced by this latest stunt, open ridicule of Christianity is unfortunately very common within much of the homosexual community. Gay' activists disingenuously call Christians 'haters' and 'homophobes' for honoring the Bible, but then lash out in this hateful manner toward the very people they accuse. In their version of The Last Supper, Christ, Who gave His life for our sins, is despicably replaced by sin itself as the object of worship." You can read a press-release about it here, but I don't recommend investigating that site too much.
Now, outrage from the hard-right Christian fundamentalist community is nothing new, and nothing to be surprised at. But what I always find interesting, and depressing, enough to find the term "interpressing" appropriate, is the number of (apparently) gay people who find offense in the ad. Andrew Sullivan doesn't like it, but Andrew Sullivan is a notorious right-wing crank and hypocrite, so fuck what he thinks, frankly. But if you look at the comments section at popular gay blog sites like Towleroad and Joe.My.God, you'll see lots of everyday-gays attacking the ad.
The basic complaints all boil down to one thing: ads like this make us look bad to "them." Ad like this alienate "them" and that hurts gay rights. You see variations of this argument all the time. Drag queens in Pride parades make us look bad to "them." We should distance ourselves from that married politician who had an affair with another man because it makes us look bad to "them." Effeminate teenage drama queens on the Internet should be scolded for making us look bad to "them." I'd like to chalk these arguments up to internalized homophobia, but more often than not they simply seem myopic to me. Because the counter-argument I'd like to propose is that it really doesn't matter what we, as the gay community, say or do in our efforts not to offend "them." Because "they" hate us. Not for what we do, but for who we are. It doesn't matter what we do, "they" are going to be offended. Things like kinky ads, drag queens, closeted politicians and effeminate teens just give "them" a convenient excuse.
Every gay person in the country could be a white, middle-class Republican, living in the suburbs, not ever dreaming of doing anything remotely kinky or "gross", up to and including actually have sex with a person of the same sex, violently insisting that no, really, we don't want equal rights, equal protection under the law or to be treated with basic human decency, and "they" would still hate us. What makes me so sure of this? Because there was a time, not so long ago, within the living memory of many gay men certainly, where the idea of a kinky leather festival was unheard of. Not just unheard of, unimaginable. When there were no such things as Pride parades, much less drag queens marching in them. When closeted politician's careers were over, and quite possibly their freedom. When effeminate teenage queens might as well just kill themselves, because they had nothing to live for. A time when the only homosexuals were "good" homosexuals, living in the closet, in fear and shame, and risking their jobs, homes and livelihoods just to go to a gay bar. Because if the police decided to raid it the night you happen to be there, well, kiss everything you have and know goodbye. And "they" hated us then. Quite possibly more so than "they" do now.
So no, ads like this don't hurt gay rights. Gay people sniping at other gay people to "behave, look presentable, and for God's sake stop acting gay" hurt gay rights. The failure of people in our community to support one another against hateful outside pressures hurts gay rights more than all the kinky leather daddies, drag queens, closeted politicians and teenage queens ever could. So you don't personally approve of any of those things. So what. Find a gay cause or group you feel you can support, and simply sigh and move on when one of those horrible, evil leather daddies or drag queens comes into view. It's far past time that gay people stop worrying about making "them" happy.
Two slight codas, one visual allusions to the Last Supper are nothing new. And they haven't elicited controversy or complaints in significance before. This, I think, really drives home the point that this outrage and controversy is manufactured, and driven more by homophobia than any sincere religious feeling.
Also, one of Matt Barber's comments bears closer scrutiny: "We further challenge the media to cover this affront to Christianity with the same vigor as recent stories about cartoon depictions of Mohammed and other items offensive to the Muslim community." Ah, so Matt, you want the Christian community to be portrayed as a bunch of small-minded, ignorant, backwards fundamentalists, who threaten people with murder if they don't get their way, all because you're not culturally sophisticated enough to understand the principles of free speech, artistic expression, and learning to live and let live? Because, I got to say, you guys are doing a bang-up job of that all on your own.
Plus, all those guys in that ad? Hot. Heck, even that woman on the left gives me a funny feeling...
Extra Note: I really hate playing the "Pete card" but in the context of this discussion I thought it worth mentioning. So, Pete, my boyfriend, of nine years? The minister in his church and director of a gospel choir? That Pete? Cool with the picture. Kind of likes it, actually. So let's cool it on both the "Christians are evil" and the "gays are irreligious" talk, shall we? Actual quote: "I think it's great they used a black Jesus."
I usually try to keep my eyes open for interesting looking collections of newspaper strips I've never heard of; which isn't that hard, given the sorry state of newspaper comics pages. The satirical nature of this strip appealed to me. Given that even the mildly geeky humor of something like Foxtrot was too much for most newspapers, I was curious as to what an out and out parody of typical sci-fi adventure comics and films would be like. It's...actually pretty much what you would expect. The characters are well tread stereotypes: lunk-head captain, lazy engineer, somewhat evil scientist, annoying child sidekick. It's a minor blessing that the only regular female character in the collection turns out to be the only half-way competent member of the crew. The geek humor works in small doses, but in one big book it tends to drag on a little too long, especially in the longer storylines. So, it's a mildly entertaining diversion at best, which still puts it miles ahead of most of the other strips in the newspaper.
Booster Gold #1, by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz and Dan Jurgens, published by DC Comics
Speaking of mild diversions; the first issue of Booster Gold is darn near a textbook example of "harmless super-hero book." It's steeped in continuity, almost but not quite to the point of being about continuity, with appealing, easily defined characters. And while the book plays up a "the stakes are big" angle, it doesn't feel like a high-drama or high-angst book; it retains a light touch. The art is also the best work I've seen from Jurgens in years, bringing a suitably "heroic" look to the book.
In other comic news, Sticky writer Dale Lazarov and artist Delic Van Loond have a new adults-only web-comic called Fancy. It's a pantomime strip with beautiful line-work. The story so far could probably be called "gay barbarian fantasy" and if you're into that sort of thing you should definately check it out.
Also of note, in the preview for the new DC solicitations, was this little...gem? COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: LORD HAVOK AND THE EXTREMISTS #1 Written by Frank Tieri Art and cover by Liam Sharpe Don’t miss this special 6-part COUNTDOWN miniseries featuring the most powerful beings on Earth-8 — Lord Havok and his Extremists — written by Frank Tieri (GOTHAM UNDERGROUND) and illustrated by Liam Sharp (TESTAMENT)! Lord Havok! Dr. Diehard! Tracer! Gorgon! Dreamslayer! Carny! Meet these dangerous individuals and learn why they are so integral to COUNTDOWN and the fate of the Multiverse! Guest-starring Monarch, the Monitors, Donna Troy, Jason Todd and Kyle Rayner! On sale October 31 • 1 of 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Okay, an Extremists mini-series? I blame all of you with paranoid fantasies about Dan Didio trying to "destroy" the Giffen-era Justice League for this. This is DC's answer to your complaints, you realize.
So, it's a typical day at Station Whiz, with Billy and his boss sitting around watching television instead of, you know, working...
"So, instead of reporting facts, I'll just be reporting any nonsense I make up? So it'll be like that summer I worked for Fox News?" "Exactly Billy!"
What follows is a montage of Captain Marvel staying in various haunted locales in search of inspiration for his stories. So it's kind of like one of those "Ghost Hunters" type shows, only without easily spooked idiots running around in the dark.
Well, Billy is a total disaster as a writer of ghost stories, so eventually Station Whiz has no choice but to, er, try to retain the good employee they made no attempt to keep in the first place...
So the station manager and Captain Marvel show up at I.J. Scarum's house, and force the butler to allow them to spend the night so that they can meet up with Mr. Scarum and persuade him to come back to work. Because intimidation, assault and trespassing aren't crimes if you're a big shot radio television station owner, apparently. Ah, but do the fates have a cruel twist in store for our heroes?
What follows is the most anti-climatic villain reveal ever:
Did Captain Marvel just resolve a conflict by bribing a ghost? Man, I love comics...
As you know, I really hate the "torture porn" genre of horror. I think, in the long run, it's bad for the genre for those types of films to dominate, and I really don't like what their financial and popular success says about American tastes. And then I found this interview with the marketing co-president for the studio that releases the Hostel movies:
The next image in the campaign was from a photo session Palen did with film costar Bijou Phillips. It shows Phillips nude, holding her own severed head in her hand. Knowing the image was too graphic to ever be shown in a theater or in a newspaper ad, Palen gave the poster to international Internet sites, which are not subject to MPAA guidelines, and Comic-Con festivals. ...
Palen defends his work in two ways: in terms of context and execution. The poster of a naked Phillips holding her severed head in her hands, he says, "is completely inappropriate to be on a billboard on the street or even in the lobby of our offices." But he says it is suitable for theaters in foreign markets — where people are far less concerned about sexual images — and for hard-core horror fans.
"It's for the boys in the backpacks at these comic conventions, waiting in line for hours to get the posters signed," says Palen.
And that's what the legacy of sexism and misogyny in the comics industry has wrought: film studios thinking it's okay to market sexually violent images because they'll appeal to comic fans.
Sigh... I really feel like I should be insulted by Palen's characterization, but I have a hard time arguing against the point he's making, based on the on-line and real life conversations I've seen comic fans have.
Dear lord, there's a lot of stuff coming out this week. After two relatively light weeks, we would get a big week right when all my bills are due. I think I'll probably end up getting The Black Diamond Detective Agency...eventually. That it comes out the same week as MPD Psycho and Young Bottoms in Love is too bad, as I don't feel the same urgency to purchase or read it as I do those two books. I feel like I should feel secretly ashamed that I plan on buying New Warriors, not only because it's got "cancellation-bait" written all over it, but because it's got that "we'll inflate sales by using the book as a bridge between the last cross-over and the next cross-over" vibe on it as well.
The things you learn from old comics:
The "master of evil" wears pixie boots and European swim trunks. Huh.
You know what we all need more of? Random, gratuitous beefcake:
Supernatural: Origins #1, by , Peter Johnson and Matthew Dow Smith, with Geoff Johns and Phil Hester, published by DC/Wildstorm
I'm honestly not sure whether coming to this book without ever having seen even a single episode of the television series it serves as prequel to helped or hindered my response to the book. As a stand-alone concept, it worked fairly well. But there was a certain sense of "sketchiness" about many of the characters and the central premise, that left me feeling throughout the book that I was missing certain fairly significant details and elements of back-story. There are moments that feel very much like foreshadowing that will only pay off in the television show, or bits of exposition that explain gaps in an episode. So, while it was a well put together story and entertaining in its own right, I felt like I wasn't familiar enough with the background to get as much out of it as I was meant to. Smith's art, however, was exceptionally good, and reminded me a little bit of a mix of Duncan Fegredo and Mike Mignola. It's heavily shadowed and moody, which fits the tone of the book very well, and the stylized look to his art was quite striking.
Matt at No-Sword had a couple of brilliant posts up about post-war Japanese family planning guides. Here's part one and here's part two. It's really interesting stuff from an historical and sociological perspective, and as a comic reader it helps explain the "sister complex" I see so often in manga and anime.
Oh, and in reference to the current Man of the Moment, Topher Grace...I selected him because he was pretty much the only thing even remotely tolerable about the latest Spider-Man movie. How bad was it? Even Pete thought it was bad. I think the only other super-hero movie Pete didn't like was the third X-Men film. That's how bad it was.
A little bit of Subtext? What Subtext? for you, that I probably should have saved for Friday Night:
To be fair, pretty much any panel with Magicman is subtextastic. I mean, the green turban, the pearl necklace, the sleeve-less unitard slit to the navel, the pixie boots...and his secret identity? He's in the Army. I don't think they need to ask in the case of Magicman.
So, that picture of Citizen Steel I posted the other day...there's been some discussion of it on other comic sites and blogs. Most of it, oddly, focusing on how "inappropriate" the image is. To no one's great shock, it seems to be straight men who are bothered by the image.
Don McPherson tries to put the picture into context by comparing it to gratuitously sexualized images of Catwoman and Supergirl. While his point about the depictions of women in super-hero comics is taken, I really have a tremendously hard time (no pun intended) in seeing the Justice Society of America cover as being anywhere near the same league as a statue of Catwoman with her breasts popping out or the nymphet Lolita Supergirl statue. The entire point of those statues is to present the characters portrayed as erotic objects. I have tremendous difficulty believing that Alex "gay writers are molesting Obsidian" Ross intended the same effect. The real howler of a response is Brian Cronin's description of the image as "creepy." It's such a bizarre over-reaction to the image there really isn't any way to engage it. Chris Butcher's response to the whole thing is well worth a read, especially as he's not afraid to call a small shovel used for digging a spade, and very accurately assess the revulsion straight men claim to have for the image as homophobic in nature. Cronin uses the word "creepy" or a variation of it five times. McPherson compares it to yaoi (boys love) manga, which was a nicely subtle bit of gay-baiting, I thought, to compare the image in a perjorative sense to material depicting gay relationships.
But for me, what I'm most struck by in this anxiety over whether or not Citizen Steel's manhood is threatening to the reader is the blatant insincerity of it. There seems to be a condescending undercurrent of "oh, I get it now! This depiction of an unerect penis completely covered by clothing which isn't even close to the focus of the piece has made me feel so insecure in my own masculinty and an object of sexual desire that I now understand why female bloggers were complaining about that Star Sapphire cover of Green Lantern!" to this whole affair. Which, again, is nonsense. A picture of a fully clothed man, who appears to be generously endowed, in a heroic, athletic pose is miles away from a woman in a latex bikini which barely covers her sexual organs, posed to display both ample cleavage and her ass. Perhaps if Citizen Steel's costume was a mesh-nylon thong and Ross had posed him thrusting his hips forward, his crotch in the dead center of the image, we might be able to say that the cover is sexualizing men. Even most of the examples Tim O'Neil dredges up are more crotch-tastic than Ross's image.
The real kicker, of course, is that the image really isn't much to get excited about. Yes, Ross's model appears to have been of a nice size in the pants department, but all Ross has done is use highlights and shadow to suggest that. And Ross, say what you will about him or his art (and I'm not a particular fan), is nothing if not faithful in his efforts to realistically portray his subjects. Chris Butcher made a good effort at illustrating why this image isn't really as direly sexual as people seem to think, but, what they hey, it's been awhile since I posted semi-naked men. So, to recap:
Good sized soft penis, fake:
Good sized soft penis, real:
Good sized hard penis, real:
Good sized soft penis, real, blatantly detailed and outlined by clothing:
I think it's pretty clear that the painting by Ross is, by far, the tamest of the images.
I have been in a contemplative mood of late, and one of the threads I keep coming back to is images of masculinity that resonated with me as a child.
The Earliest Memories
I've talked about this before, buy my earliest notions of what men were was watching and hanging around sailors. Being a Navy brat, this wasn't difficult to do, as most of my parent's friends were connected to the Navy, and most of our shopping was done on base. Sailors were just always around and were the primary non-familiar men I saw around me every day. I don't know that I ever had any generalized impressions of what sailors were supposed to be like, but the imagery has always stuck with me.
How Men Act: Errol Flynn and Cary Grant
I wasn't an athletic child at all. I was probably nine or ten before I even learned to ride a bike. Most of my free time was spent reading, with occasional toy or cartoon breaks. The only prolonged television time I spent was on weekends, watching old movies on local television stations. Most of the movies they showed were old comedies and monster movies, with Godzilla movies on occasion and Popeye cartoons to pad out time. But more adventure orientated films made the cut from time to time, and I quickly grew to appreciate the swashbuckler films that Flynn starred in. There was a virile recklessness to his screen persona, particularly when playing Robin Hood, that appealed to me. Even today, my fascination with Flynn's Robin has created a fondess for Robin Hood stories over the more popular European and American folk heroes.
Cary Grant, by comparison, I was first exposed to in comedies, and it was some time before I associated him with dramatic acting. He had a strong appeal to, especially in his mannerisms and attitude. If Flynn was a reckless type, Grant was the mature, level-headed one. He was just enough of a dandy to be debonair.
Between the two of them, I formed a notion that men were meant to be elegant and dashing, eloquent and just a bit biting in their wit.
The Adventurers: Sinbad and Hercules
No matter how bad the movie was, if the name "Sinbad" was in the title, I was almost certain to sit through it. The swashbuckling elements appealed to me, as did the rogueish nature, but the sense of braving the unknown had a strong appeal as well. The Sinbad movies are probably largely to blame with my childhood fascination with mythology and fantasy as well.
I'm not ashamed to admit, that my fondness for Hercules films, and sword-and-sandal films in general, was almost purely aesthetic. Even as a kid, I know that the sheer physical presence of Steve Reeves and other actors in the genre excited me in a way that I couldn't articulate. Even more than sailors, these athletic, well-muscled men defined what masculinity meant physically. This is almost certainly the direct root of my still current fascination with physique photography from the period.
The Heroes: Tarzan, Zorro and the Lone Ranger
I was a teenager, practically, before I gained any interest in super-hero comics. Up until then, I mostly read Disney comics and horror comics. The only super-hero titles I read with any regularity were Wonder Woman, Batman and occasionally Hulk. There's a common thread to those three titles if you stop and think about it for a moment. My idea of an exciting hero figure than was more pulpy in tone. There was probably a strong aesthetic element to my fondness for anything Tarzan related as well, there were no shortage of handsome men in skimpy costumes to look at in a Tarzan movie or cartoon, after all. And though I'm a good post-colonialist now and cringe at the racist ideas and terrible "White Man's Burden" subtext of most Tarzan productions, as a kid the notion of the jungle was so exotic and alien that it may as well have been a fantasy film.
I always tended to think of Zorro and the Lone Ranger back-to-back as a kid. I probably was more enthusiastic about the Lone Ranger. He had a horse, and a toy gun was easier to come by than a toy whip, and I did in fact have a dress-up kit which I wore out, pretending to be the Ranger. That you couldn't get me out of cowboy boots until I was about six is pretty much his fault as well. With these two, you had the swashbuckling angle, and the Robin Hood aspects as well. Plus, they dressed really, really well. There goes that dandy-ish aspect to masculinity as well.
I Give In To Pop Culture: Han Solo
Eventually, the world at large intruded into my world, and I somehow got exposed to Star Wars. While other boys desperately wanted to be Luke Skywalker, or Chewbacca, or in at least one worrying case, R2-D2, I always wanted Han toys and to play Han with other kids. In light of earlier men who appealed to me, it's easy to see why. He's not quite a swash-buckler, but he is a charismatic rogue, who (eventually) does the right thing. He's witty and dresses fantastically, and he explores a world that's amazingly exotic and filled with strange creatures. Han was almost the perfect distillation of all the male images I had fallen for before. He was quite possibly the first person I wanted to grow up to be. That's almost an embarrassing confession, as I can't even stand to watch the Star Wars films anymore. But I liked them when I was eight, which is fair enough, I suppose, and I still won't let go of any of my surviving toys and artifcats with Han on them.
I'm listless tonight, and not feeling particularly enthusiastic about anything I'd planned to write about. Not even my mini-rant about the quality of the paper Dark Horse is using as cover-stock on Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, which starts to curl the moment I take off the shrink-wrap and expose it to air. Not even a (slightly) mock expression of surprise that super-hero fans are appalled at over-sexualized anime versions of super-heroine action-figures, given that the plastic statues in question are positively tame in comparison to most examples of anime-gal figures I've seen. The only thing that did immediately catch my eye today was the relase of the DC solicitations for May, in which I note that a JSA Classified story-line will focus on Wildcat.
Only thing is, it's written by Frank Tieri. Whose work hasn't particularly impressed me in the past. I have a dim recollection that his run on Wolverine wasn't terrible, but that's largely in comparison to what came before and after.
So, I think I'll just post some pictures of John Tristram instead.
Oh, what the heck. John Barrowman and Ruthie Henshall singing "Anything You Can Do"