Latest Posts

Here are this week's links to what I've had published recently...

Kleefeld on Comics: On Business: Do the Right Thing
http://ift.tt/2jn3i3A

Kleefeld on Comics: On History: The More Things Change...

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #46: The Mentorship Experiment https://t.co/geK7cq5sNS

Kleefeld on Comics: Weekly Comics Links
http://ift.tt/2zGxGMK

FreakSugar: Webcomics Wednesday: Mastodon?

Kleefeld on Comics: On -isms: Cone of Silence 2?

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #47: The Hourly Comic https://t.co/geK7cq5sNS

Kleefeld on Comics: On Strips: Li'l Abner, The TV Show
http://ift.tt/2zQzTDq


Al Capp's Li'l Abner was, as you probably know, very popular back in the day. Enough to spawn a movie in 1940 (which I wrote about here) and and a more widely known color version in 1959. There was even a 1952 TV show based on the Fearless Fosdick comic that appeared within the Li'l Abner comic itself. (I wrote about that here.)

What I just discovered, though, was that Li'l Abner continued to be popular enough that a TV show pilot was made in 1966. It was never picked up by any of the networks, but the pilot did evidently air once on NBC in 1967. To fill some otherwise dead air, I gather. It's phenomenally bad, even by 1960s' sitcom standards. What I liked about the 1940 version was that the costumes and makeup was done well enough that all of the characters were immediately recognizable, even if you only had a passing familiarity with the comic. This version, by contrast, takes more of a half-assed approach and only Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae seem to bear any resemblance to their comic strip counterparts.

In any event, here's about fifteen minutes (three 5-ish minute clips tied together) of painfully bad writing. The only real saving graces are being able to look at Jeannine Riley and/or a pre-Brady Bunch Robert Reed, depending on your preferences.

A couple years back, I responded to the then-recent allegations of Nathan Edmondson harassing women at conventions by saying that my platform here is open to anyone who would like to, anonymously or not, get word out about any harassment issues in comics they've had to deal with. I've never had anyone take me up on that offer, but in light of recent revelations, I'll put it out there again. As I wrote then...
To anyone out there reading this, I would like to offer my platform here as an outlet for speaking up against harassment in the comic industry. If you're concerned that using your own account to document your issues will result in harming your career, I can relay your story here anonymously. I don't work in the industry, nor do I have aspirations to, so I'm not concerned with what career bridges I might burn. As I stated earlier, I'm not even a journalist, so I don't feel the need to worry about keeping good relations with publishers so I can maintain some level of access to their news. My concern is equity. I want everyone to have the same opportunities based on their talents and skills, and I don't want anyone to feel slighted, much less threatened, because of of their gender/sexuality/race/disability.

This isn't a gossip site -- I don't think I could run one if I wanted to -- but I do want to call people out who treat others disrespectfully. Just because a creator is talented and/or popular gives them absolutely zero right to treat others in a degrading or demeaning manner. So if a creator harasses you (sexually or otherwise) and you're not comfortable having your name attached to complaints, feel free to contact me at sean@seankleefeld.com and I will do what I can to help get your story out there with whatever level of anonymity you desire.

If there are creators out there who are getting away with unacceptable behavior, they should be called out for it. I like to think I've displayed independence and integrity with my blog over the past several years, and I offer that along with this platform for anyone in comics who needs it.
The offer still stands. And it will continue to stand as long as I have a platform to leverage.
Another busy week here at Casa de Kleefeld, so I'm diving back into my archives. Today I'm pulling out another article I did for my old FFPlaza website covering the mutations that impacted the Thing over the years. Not my most interesting piece, but this is the type of thing that I spent the better part of two decades researching. (Of course, this piece is now over a decade old, so it could well have been made retroactively out of date at some point since I don't keep up with the characters like I used to.) In any event...

How is that Cosmic Rays turned Ben Grimm into the Thing? And why is his ability to revert to his normal form more conditional than his teammates? This document looks to explain how and why Ben changes forms by examining the times that he has. This is not a listing of Ben's transformations, rather, it is an analysis of them.

Cosmic Radiation

Ben's initial transformation in Fantastic Four #1 was the result of bombardment with Cosmic Rays. Later analysis by Reed Richards showed increased levels or solar flare and neutron activity, but it is unclear exactly how those additional factors contributed to the Thing's fate. That the Cosmic Rays were primarily at fault, though, seems unquestionable since subsequent changes in the amount of Cosmic Radiation in Ben's body have forced him to undergo additional changes.
There have been two types of changes the Ben has undergone when subjected to additional Cosmic Radiation. First, and most frequent, is reverting to human form. Initially it may seem unusual that additional doses of radiation would have a negating effect on Ben's condition, but this author theorizes that Cosmic Rays can have either a positive or negative charge, perhaps partially dependent on the aforementioned solar flares. A positively charged bath of Cosmic Rays could conceivably counteract the effects of negatively charged radiation, and vice-versa. This would further explain how all four members of the Fantastic Four were de-powered in a battle with the Frightful Four. (Fantastic Four #38) Although it may be noted that there have been occasions where the entire team was bathed simultaneously with only an effect seen on Ben, it should be pointed out that a) the effect was temporary, b) none of the other members exhibited their powers during that time either, and c) the transformation was imperceptible to those experiencing it.

The second change Ben has experienced when absorbing additional radiation is further mutation, noticeable by an unusually craggy, almost stalactite appearance. This second change has occurred twice (Thing #36, Fantastic Four #310) but the mutation process was radically different each time. It first occurred very gradually and painfully, but faded away with time. The second instance was decidedly quicker and the effect only passed with the help of one Reed's inventions. Although no explanation was given for the first instance, it seems likely that Ben had been exposed to continuous, albeit low, levels of similarly-charged radiation for an extended period. This is also a reasonable guess, considering that he spent most of his time just prior to that change on the West Coast, which has a dramatically different climate than his normal base of operations in New York City, again pointing to the possibility of solar intervention.

As a curious side note, Modok may have also stumbled onto a similar source of radiation. His Virus X began changing Ben's appearance as well and, had it's effects not been arrested by the efforts of Mr. Fantastic and Giant-Man (Marvel Two-In-One #82), he may have ended with a similar craggy appearance.

Electro-Chemical Analyses

Reed's initial attempts to cure Ben were chemical in nature. He experimented with a variety of serums that were actually successful in returning Ben to human form for brief periods. Not surprisingly, the chemical treatments were inadequate to the full-body transformation Ben underwent. Even the alchemic mastermind Diablo was unsuccessful in completely curing Ben. (Fantastic Four #30) The processes were unstable at best and sudden power surges prompted Ben's cell structure to return to it's rock-like state. Given the origins of Ben's latest bout with humanity (Fantastic Four volume 3 #39) it is surmised that a similar power surge would revert him to the Thing permanently.

It should be noted here that Ben was once transformed to his human state when struck by a bolt of lightning. (Fantastic Four #9) As lightning usually carries a negative charge, this author suggests further that the Fantastic Four were in fact bombarded with positively charged Cosmic Radiation. That would account for the lightning being attracted to Ben in the first place (the bolt should have struck Namor under normal circumstances, as he is the taller of the two heroes) and would also explain how the irradiated cells in Ben's body shifted polarity for only a brief time (acting much like a magnet when held next a piece of iron).

Radiation Dissipation

Eventually, Reed went beyond chemical treatments in an attempt to dissipate the radiation in the Thing's body, once he had isolated the exact wavelengths of it. This method has, in fact, been proven to work in the years since Reed first began using it; however, Ben had come to the conclusion that his girlfriend, Alicia Masters, only loved him as the Thing and not as Ben Grimm. Reed's attempts during this time were subconsciously thwarted by Benjamin himself. Using the same apparatus later -- after having emotionally divorced himself from Alicia Masters -- proved entirely successful, and it was later Ben's willing choice to re-submit his body to additional doses of positively charged Cosmic Radiation in an effort to regain his rocky hide.

Other Radiation Wavelengths

Cosmic Radiation, however, cannot account for all of the transformations Ben has undergone. On several occasions, other forms of radiation have a negating effect on Ben's condition. Prolonged exposure to Gamma Radiation, for example, seems to have a nullifying effect on the Cosmic Radiation, suggesting that Gamma Rays are very similar to negatively charged Cosmic Rays, the polar opposite of those that first affected the Fantastic Four. Other energies -- notably Korgon's "darkfield illumination" (Fantastic Four #224-225) and the ubiquitously named "metamorphic rays" (Fantastic Four #404-405) -- have been used on occasion to return Ben to his human state, but these have not been studied to any great extent.

Conclusion

Ben's changes have, in fact, been surprisingly consistent and predictable. His current status of being able to alter forms at will strikes this author as temporary, and subject to not receiving a substantial shock to his system -- a rather common occurrence for super-powered heroes. Undoubtably, Reed will continue to run tests and make analyses, and it seems likely that the subject will be continued to be explored in greater detail in the future.
When I was a teenager, I saw the movie Nothing in Common with Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason. I don't remember exactly when I saw it -- sometime after it had started showing up regularly on cable, so probably when I was in the back half of high school when I was starting to give serious consideration to a career. The movie mostly revolves around Hanks' character reconciling and getting along with his retiring and recently divorced father, played by Gleason. But the backdrop of it has Hanks as goofy, wise-cracking executive at an ad agency. He got to be creative and have fun all day, and he got paid some big money. That sounded like a fantastic job to me! It by no means was a primary motivator, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't in the back of my mind when I went to school to get a degree in graphic design.

My first few graphic design jobs out of school were not for agencies, however, but companies' in-house design departments. Those weren't nearly as cool, but Id understood that agency jobs aren't as common and generally required a high level of expertise that I hadn't quite mastered yet. Nonetheless, every time I went job hunting, I'd send my resume and portfolio samples off to various agencies. And eventually, about five years after graduating, I got in. An actual agency gig.

I was excited. It looked like it had that same free-spirited atmosphere that I saw in Nothing in Common. One of the co-owners had a giant Three Stooges print hanging in his office, and there were two Razor scooters that employees could use to zip from one side of the office to the other. Plenty of the creative work hung around the studios, some of it actual projects they were paid for, some of it just personal stuff people did for fun. It seemed like what I'd been looking for in an employer since high school.

From the fact that I'm telling you all this, I'm sure you no doubt expect the "But..." that's inevitably coming.

It turned out to be a very uncomfortable job. Partially because the job I was apparently hired for didn't exactly mesh with the job I was told I was hired for, but also because the atmosphere itself was very uncomfortable for me (and I suspect others too). It was uncomfortable because it very much felt like a stereotypical frat house. There was a very strong sense of a dude-bro culture (well before "dude-bro" was an actual term) and it wasn't uncommon for jokes to go around that were more explicit than is warranted in a corporate office with many having a misogynistic leaning. As far as I know, there was no overt sexual harassment that took place there (reported or not) -- as far as I saw/heard, those jokes only seemed to crop up when no women were present -- but for as uncomfortable as it made me feel as someone who was decidedly not on the butt end of those jokes, I can't help but believe that every woman there cringed every time they thought about dealing with those attitudes in the office.

After about a year, I was let go, along with about half a dozen others. All of whom happened to have worked on a project that one of the owners micro-managed to the point of it failing. I haven't worked at an agency in the decade and a half since then. If agency life was like that, I will absolutely pass.

I tell this story in relation to the increasing number of incidents of sexual harassment within comics that we've been hearing about. Valerie D'Orazaio has some of the more explicit and wide-ranging stories I've heard, but those are by no means comprehensive! Sadly. I'm wondering how many women were pushed out. Beyond the stories of overt sexual harassment. Not to diminish those, certainly, but the number of times women just felt deeply uncomfortable working in a misogynistic, dude-bro climate like I did undoubtedly exceeds the number of explicit acts of harassment. How many women got a taste of that culture and said, "No, thanks"?

My point is that many of the stories we're hearing about are the worst of the worst. And they need to be treated as such. But just because women aren't being groped on a daily basis doesn't mean that the environment isn't toxic. And even if you're an asshole and don't care about women as people, does it even make sense from a business perspective to actively turn away talented individuals just because you think you're better than them? That seems to me a recipe for problems. If you allow this bullshit to continue, much less encourage it, you're going to be outed at some point, and your business is going to suffer. Like I said, even if you're an asshole with no moral compunctions (and that moral dimension is indeed the way you should be looking at this) it's just bad business.

Speaking of which, that ad agency I was telling you about? They were later bought out for their client list. The agency was less than half the size than when I worked there. The original owners were initially promised leadership positions in the larger company, but were pushed out soon after. You reap what you sow.
Here are this week's links to what I've had published recently...

Kleefeld on Comics: On Business: Commission Gift Certificates
http://ift.tt/2AlAufY

Comics Alternative: Webcomics: Reviews of Blindsprings, Albert the Alien, and A Fire Story

FreakSugar: Fanthropology: Who Changes More?
Kleefeld on Comics: On History: The Many Flames of Johnny Storm
http://ift.tt/2AhiF0O

Kleefeld on Comics: Weekly Comics Links
http://ift.tt/2yIinUh

FreakSugar: Webcomics Wednesday: Creator’s Voice
http://ift.tt/2ygwXy0

Kleefeld on Comics: On -isms: John Patler
http://ift.tt/2ymlRYD

Kleefeld on Comics: On Strips: Schulz, Mauldin, & Veterans Day
http://ift.tt/2zs2twW