Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Classic Cartoons - This Has Got To Be Somebody's Drug-Fueled Nightmare

"Swing You Sinners!" made by Fleischer Studios in 1930.

There's an interesting sketchy vibe to this one that I didn't expect to see.  But then, it's not a surprise that it wasn't more polished, as it comes across like they made it while on a seriously bad trip.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Flowers of Love

Lo Scarabeo's Flowers of Love cards cover a cross-section of flower meanings and symbolism from cultures all over the world:  Ancient Greece, Northern Europe, Eastern Asia, etc.  I was given this deck as a gift, and was excited to have it, because I thought it would be a handy reference tool for flower symbolism.  But unfortunately, no.  It's still pretty cool, but really, some of the references are so obscure or plain not-that-useful that I'll still go online to look up flower meanings when I need them.   For example, the meaning given for the peony is "Forbidden Thrills"...

...based on a Chinese legend about the peony defying an empress who ordered all the flowers to bloom on her birthday.  So according to the card, the peony represents rebellion and exciting defiance.  But this reference is so out-there, even when I looked up Chinese peony symbolism, it's rarely mentioned at all.  A lot of the other cards have similarly baffling legends associated with them, like the columbine card....

...which references what appears to be an Italian legend revolving around a couple named Teodogene and Rutibrando, who were part of a Germanic group that settled in Italy in the Middle Ages.  Wow.  See what I mean?  The very definition of "obscure".

Some of the other cards:

I imagine that this deck wasn't meant to be used for anything other than the specific sort of divination made up by the authors, as the included booklet gives detailed instructions on how to do readings with the cards.  But, personally, it's hard for me to see real meaning in cards that describe things that have almost nothing to do with anything I can actually connect to or have even ever heard of.  Also, the Victorian Language of Flowers is so well-known and entrenched, if you were to use this deck as a tool to help you choose which flowers to give to someone, you could run into trouble.  For example, the most common symbolism for orchids is based around purity, refinement, and luxury, which is why it's usually considered a nice one to give to your mother.  According to the card above, though, giving someone an orchid basically means "I wanna sex you up!"

Sooo....yeah.  Anyway.  If you'd like to use this deck to do readings with, and are happy to follow the exact meanings and instructions given in the included booklet, then you're good.  As always, these are only my personal opinions, and your mileage may vary.  It's not that I think this deck shouldn't exist or anything, I just think I'll go look up a reliable Victorian Language of Flowers reference and be on my merry way.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A Justice League For People Who Aren't Into Superheroes

I spend every Friday night at the local comic shop, hanging out while my son and boyfriend play in a weekly Magic: The Gathering tournament.  (For long-time readers, yes, I quit playing months ago.  I still think it's great, but every new set release drives the game into more and more ridiculously complicated territory.  I still have no idea what the hell "cloud shift" does.)  Anyway, as long as you're a person who enjoys bright colors and fantasy themes, and who isn't, you'll never be bored in a comic shop.  Lately, while the boys play in the tournament, I've been particularly distracted by the DC rack, as there is a lot of interesting stuff happening there these days:  good art, good story ideas, and good writing.  I'm already religiously following the Before Watchmen collection of titles. All of the controversy should be put to rest on that front, in my opinion, by the way.  Every title in that group is excellently done.  The only one that seems kind of pointless is Dr. Manhattan, because his backstory was already thoroughly covered in the original.  But anyway....

Last Friday night, I decided to try Justice League Dark.  I've been eyeing that title for months.  At first, what I could glean from the covers alone kind of confused me.  I assumed from the name that it must be an offshoot of Justice League, probably involving peripheral superheroes who never came out from under the looming shadows of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc...  I was sort of close.  Justice League Dark involves a group of established DC characters, some of which have, indeed, been involved with the Justice League, who have been commissioned by the government to deal with paranormal issues that fall outside of the realm of expertise of the average superhero.  The team is made up of magicians and sorcerers, a ghost, a vampire, a shapeshifter....and the stories involve ancient magical objects, demons and tree gods etc, and lots and lots of magic-based battling.

If you're interested in getting started with this title, an excellent place to begin is Issue #9:

At this point in the series, a new story arc begins, and new team members are introduced.  You don't have to go back to #1 to understand what's happening.  This particular story (which is still ongoing) has pedigree, as well:  Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic series is directly referenced.  The plot revolves around it, in fact.

Justice League Dark's artwork is very high-quality, at least for this story arc, anyway.  I hope it stays that way.  Mikel Janin has a talent for facial expressions that especially stands out.  My favorite example of this is Doctor Mist, whose face beautifully broadcasts the sadness and loss driving every decision he makes.  The layouts are also amazing:

Click to embiggen!

Click to embiggen!

I'd love to see more people get into this comic, if only so that DC doesn't cancel it and make it impossible for me to collect it long-term.  Comics are awesome, people!  Just as good as regular books, and a whole hell of a lot more colorful!  Support your local comic shop!

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