Monday, July 30, 2007

Wiki Weirdness

Writing about the possible infiltration of Wikipedia by state-sponsored "disinfo" agents for Montreal's Centre for Research on Globalization, Dr. Ludwig De Braeckeleer rehearses the history of secret agents messing with the media:

Conducting false flag operations and planting disinformation in the mainstream media have long belonged to the craft of the spies. In the months preceding the 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies used both techniques abundantly.

A copy of the CIA's secret history of the coup surfaced in 2000. Written in 1954 by the Princeton professor who oversaw the operation, the story reveals that agents from the CIA and SIS (the American and British intelligence services) "directed a campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in newspapers."

Interesting stuff. I wonder if any historians of editorial cartooning have tried to get to the bottom of that one? Anyway, the article goes on to trace the efforts of Wikipedia watchers to track down the identity of a Wiki-editor who was voted "the most abusive administrator of Wikipedia" and who now apparently lives in Alberta and who may or may not have been a secret agent.


other wiki stuff:


interview about the wikipedia war on comics

there is a MAD wiki

Supermanica, dedicated to Superman's world, pre-1986, is a wonderful place to visit

(the cartoon up top is by Bill Avidor)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mini-Comic Review: The Experiment

The Experiment
by Nick Maandag
20 pages

review by BK Munn

Nick Maandag is a Toronto cartoonist who has produced some interesting work over the last couple of years. His latest is an oversized photocopied mini --almost magazine size-- that contains a complete story told mostly using a 4 x 3 panel grid. The Experiment is a humourously Kafka-esque tale about a hapless homeowner named Sammy whose house is gradually invaded by a horde of identical mad scientists (they all resemble Dr. Bunsen Honeydew from the old Muppet Show, if that character had a nose like a Proboscis monkey) in the name of a vaguely-defined scientific experiment that seems solely designed to drive Sammy crazy and destroy his family. Maandag's story is quite funny and the narrative mixes just enough creepiness with mystery to keep it interesting. The drawings, while slightly clunky, are also funny: the characters, especially Sammy, who looks like a cross between Gumby and one of those Sea Monkeys from the old comic book ads, are very expressive, and Maandag uses lots of hatching and stippling to give his black-and-white pages some texture and volume. I quite enjoyed The Experiment and look forward to Maandag's next project.

(I found my copy for sale at Pages bookstore, but I'm sure you can get one direct from the creator: 626 Manning Ave, Toronto, ON, M6G 2V9. email: nickmaandag at hotmail. Maandag will be appearing at next month's Toronto Comic Arts Festival)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mystery Hoard: Guelph Yearbook Cartoons

From an interesting Mystery Hoard unearthed earlier this week: cartoons from Guelph high school yearbooks.

Taking a break from comic books, I dug up a pair of yearbooks (I guess some people would call it a facebook) while thrifting this week. They are both from Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute (GCVI or just "GC" to us locals). The books (titled "Acta Nostra") are from 1954 and 1955 and are full of great photos of earnest, clean-cut, and lily-white young mid-century moderns. The books are also full of cartoons by the local geniuses, class clowns and "artists" of the day, some of whom helped to assemble the books. I have been imagining Terry Iles and Marcia Rosenberg, seen above pasting up the comics, falling in love and getting married after graduation. A great mix of Mad Magazine, Sad Sack, and untutored outsider art styles. See for yourself by clicking on the cartoons below, from 1954:

Friday, July 06, 2007

Magic Shadows Intro

Magic Shadows was a show on TV Ontario, the provincial public boradcaster, that ran during the 1970s and was hosted by Elwy Yost. Yost was a great fan of old Hollywood and Magic Shadows serialized classic movies every weekday. Yost was also the longtime host of Saturday Night at the Movies, a weekly double bill of uncut film that competed with Hockey Night in Canada.

The best part of Magic Shadows for a kid was the animated intro and the 1930s-50s adventure serials that were frequently featured. This is a Youtube video of the opening theme: it's bracketed by some station id's and by Elwy doing a remote intro but it is a very nostalgic piece of film for people of a certain generation. Does anyone know who was responsible for this animation?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Shazam! It's July 4!

(click on images to read full-size)

In honour of our U.S. cousins, a special find from a recent mystery hoard: Capt. Marvel's Bicentennial Bear Battle.

From Shazam! #25, 1976. For the U.S. bicentennial, writer E. Nelson Bridwell took Captain Marvel on a cross-country jaunt in pursuit of Dr. Sivana who has decided to "destory America, city by city" beginning with an attempt to sabotage Billy Batson's WHIZ-TV documentary. The adventure would continue into 1977 and involve the return of Black Adam, among others.

In this excerpt, Billy and his pal Whitey Murphy, imported into the comics from the Captain Marvel movie serial, encounter the ancient enemy of patriotic Americans, the brown bear. I love it when superheroes fight bears! (That's Sivana in a blue wig in the last panel.) Later in the issue, Capt. Marvel rescues a young actor dressed as Buffalo Bill Cody from fireworks and then is captured by Sivana aboard "a replica of the captured British ship David Glasgow Farrabut commanded when he was 12!" The American Revolution sure involved quite a bit of child labour!

The art is by the one and only Kurt Schaffenberger.

Happy 4th, Yanks! To quote John Adams: "This day will be the most memorable epic in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival."