Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: The Art of Rube Goldberg

In his introduction to The Art of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius  (Abrams Books), Adam Gopnik relates his first exposure to Goldberg through a neighborhood friend's Mousetrap board game.

I had a similar introduction to the genius's work through that game (not devised, but heavily "inspired by" Goldberg's nonsensical machines that, somehow, make mechanical [yet absurd] sense) at my Grandparent's house. Along with the vintage G.I. Joe doll that was my Uncle's, Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robots, a wind-up drunkard who stumbled along with a bottle of Scotch and martini glass, was their old copy. It must've been missing a few pieces, because we still never managed to get the damn thing to work...

However, this collection of Goldberg's cartoons, selected by his granddaughter Jennifer George, does work. From the paper-engineered pull tab Goldberg machine on the cover, to the essays that includes cartoonists Brian Walker and the legendary Al Jaffee (the contemporary cartoonist most inspired by Goldberg's work), The Art of Rube Goldberg provides enough personal insight into the cartoonist's life to leave you wanting more, all while showing the progression of his cartooning through his story strips like Boob McNutt and Bobo Baxter, and self-contained strips like his The Weekly Meeting of the Tuesday Ladies' Club, Foolish Questions, or his classic invention strips.

Where (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius catches me is in the too-small reproduction of some of the strips, leaving you squinting closer to get to the good stuff given away in the words. A Device for Eyestrain, perhaps?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Doctor Who and my return to blogging...

So, I've been meaning to dust off this blog for a few months now, right after moving back down to Virginia from Brooklyn. It must be my absence of NYC Doctor Who pals, or perhaps that little fanboy that rears his geeky head over all things Who, but with the 50th special less than a week away, I'm launching with:

How the Fourth was maybe (quite possibly) really the Twelfth

Even though the Doctor Who TV movie from the '90s was my disappointing introduction to the Doctor, I was never disappointed in McGann's version of the character, a Byronian take on the Time Lord who carpe diemed the hell out of everyone in his path. For all his archaic Earth-like eccentricities, the Eighth Doctor's psychic ability made his alienness border on magical, and his charisma was inescapable.

And then he was gone, replaced inexplicably by the wonderful Christopher Eccleston upon the show's return in 2005. The Time Lords, of the planet Gallifrey, had twelve regenerations before they ultimately died forever. During the Time War that wiped out his race the Time Lords, we assumed, he regenerated (his race's way of cheating death: they simply change into a new version of themselves) into Eccelston's Ninth.

Still with me?

So, as we find out in the final two episodes of the Tenth Doctor's run (thank you David Tennant), it was the Doctor himself who was forced to destroy the Time Lords and their mortal enemies the Daleks.

And then Steven Moffat had to go and throw a monkeywrench into the works and introduce a version of the Doctor (played by John Hurt) who the Ninth through Eleventh (Matt Smith, take a bow) Doctors never admitted to. This War Doctor was the one with blood on his hands.

The Night of the Doctor, our introduction to the 50th special, shows where War Doctor fits in: as the pacifist Eighth Doctor is forced to regenerate into the Warrior needed to end the Time War.
Moffat has said that the answer to the regeneration limit has practically been under our nose all the time. His inclusion of the Sisters of Karn from the 1976 episode The Brain of Morbius is a tell into itself.

This Fourth Doctor adventure (Tom Baker, perhaps the most iconic Doctor, with his long scarf and curly head of hair) culminated in the Doctor facing off against Morbius in a psychic battle, one in which all of the Doctor's past faces were revealed.

It shows twelve faces (starting at the 1:20 mark), including the Fourth Doctor's.

The end of this battle nearly killed the Doctor, until the Sisters of Karn saved him from "dying" with the last of their elixir. So, what if that Elixir actually gave him a new set of twelve regenerations in saving his life, starting his natural life cycle over? Wouldn't he have regenerated sooner had he eight regenerations left?

Of course, there are other theories, still: River Song's sacrificing her regenerations to save the Eleventh Doctor could have given him more; the loss of the Time Lords may have lifted the limit (the Time Lords had restored the Master's regeneration cycle and, given that he and the Doctor grew up together, it isn't a stretch to think their regenerations could be synced).

But then it begs the question of the Doctor himself: Moffat had established that current companion Clara watched the Doctor his whole life, saving him from the Great Intelligence, apparently starting with the moment the Doctor first steals the TARDIS off Gallifrey.

But what if he didn't officially become "The Doctor" until that moment? Before that inciting incident, that rebellious action of stealing an old TARDIS, perhaps he was like most Gallifreyans we've seen: a complete asshole.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who are The Collective?

In launching The Drawn Word, I decided early on to use some of my mental energy to create a few comics with my pals. Case in point: The Collective, by myself and David Press. My old friend Reilly Brown (of Power Play and Hercules fame) drew up our model sheets, and we're in the process of developing the early issues with our artist.

Without giving too much away, The Collective deals with the lack of individuality and privacy in this social media obsessed world. I can't say much more than that, except that it's teen angst relayed through the digital medium.