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Thursday, December 27, 2007

2000 LIGHT-YEARS TO CHRISTMAS

Been working my way through a small pile of 70s issues of Justice League of America that I bought in Salisbury in the arse-end of the summer, when I (coincidentally) stumbled on this one, which plays off the Three Wise Men riff and also features a sort of ultra-terrestrial Santa figure:



(Gee, that was a long sentence! Sorry.)

The JLA also face off against what appears to be an (ulp!) alien reindeer:



Tho to be fair writer Gerry Conway makes a reference to Cernonnos, the stag-horned Celtic Lord of the Woods cum Hunter Diety, who could be considered as an incarnation/aspect/sub-archetype of Pan...a geezer who got so much medieval bad-press as the early Christian Church used a bit of propagandist retro-spin to portray Paganism as, uh, a bunch of really naughty stuff: aye, Pan = Satan, that ol' big-dick'd, hoofy satyr who'll shag yr wife and daughters given half a chance...but by identifying Paganism with The Great Satan, they inadvertantly gave it a whiff of glamour (in the modern sense) and bad boy mystique that it's never quite shaken off. Paganism will now be forever associated with 'freedom', skinny-dipping and frolicking in the woods and glammed-up gothy wiccans rather than speccy nerds morris dancing outside the pub...everyone, including Cliff, knows The Devil's got all the best tunes...and that's why, kiddies, (following the death of Hip-Hop) Metal has grown to dominate the musicsphere & has now got its claws into every subgenre of noise imaginable...

Anyways, just wanted to mention that I've got a soft spot for artist Dick Dillon - I always really liked his late 60s/early 70s take on the JLA - his art is clean, solid and chunky, but when he's paired with a sympathetic inker like Dick Giordano his stuff looks smashing. Unfortunately, here the inking's workmanlike and the art suffers from cheap printing, tho, in fairness, this is a double-sized issue of a monthly scheduled mag, so these guys were up against deadlines, so hats off to them for getting it on the door on time when, these days, so-called superstar artists struggle to do 6 issues a year. And don't get me started on some of these super-pros who can't even tell a straightforward story without confused page layouts or badly muddled panel composition, or employing a style-clone studio assitant to do their backgrounds. (In the good old days, editors used to make people redraw badly composed panels - does that still happen? Heh - it would probably make them another week late LOL!) The overly fussy computer colouring also sometimes makes strips even harder to read - oh, how we have sacrificed readability at the altar of so-called sophistication LOL! Still, not making any bones about this being a great comic - it ain't. The JLA's heyday was the mid-60s, to be honest...the spark of weird greatness left when Gardner Fox stopped writing it (or else was removed for not being hip enough) tho some of Denny O'Neil's early run is good and Len Wein turned in some reasonable issues in the early 100s. But ultimately it was ruined by the move towards 'Realism' as DC tried to ape Marvel's in-house style.

The Three Wise Men recast as aliens thang also strangely reminds me of "A Spaceman Came Travelling"...which was being pumped thru the PA when we went to Wooky Hole a few days before Christmas. For a few moments I couldn't remember who'd recorded it (it was Chris De Burgh) - I hadn't heard it for years and it sounded oddly Genesis-y to my aging ears. Well, it did come out in 1975. There's one bit of the song that has really good use of echo on it - given the age of the song, it would have been an old analogue echo-box, but it was an unexpected (tho cheesy) pleasure to spot this sudden sonic interruption on an old novelty Christmas record. I just stood in the gift-shop, zoned out, listening to the wash of echo while bemused parents navigated around me.

Also at Wooky Hole they had a series of posters on display drawn by legendary Brit comic artist Frank Bellamy (Dan Dare/The Eagle, Garth, Look-In, assorted Gerry Anderson stuff, etc) for Gerry Cottle's circus in the mid-70s. Fabulous stuff - I never know Bellamy had done circus posters LOL, but he was a jobbing graphic who did advertising work, so I shouldn't've been surprised - still, another unexpected pleasure. I found one of the images on the net, but the image is small, unfortunately.



Jeez, how did I get from a JLA Christmas issue to Frank Bellamy circus posters...?

No, don't answer.