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PCR Archives 2002
PCR Archives 2001
PCR Archives 2000
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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2002!

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Established A.D. 2000, March 19.  Now in our third calendar year!
  Number 133  (Vol. 3, No. 41). This edition is for the week of October 7--13, 2002.

WILL REVIEWS MORE FALL TV SHOWS....

TOP 5 MONEY-EARNING DEAD CELEBRITIES

MORE TOP TEN COMIC STRIPS OF ALL TIME

William Moriaty here... You may remember my reviews from last week's issue where I published my feelings about a select few shows I had been eagerly anticipating premiering this fall (Nolan's reviews appeared the week before).

We're now three weeks into the new fall preview shows that I bally-hooed back then. Here's an update on those shows:

WILL'S RATING SYSTEM:
One Star- Lousy, put in a VCR or DVD.
Two Stars- Average, take time to go the bathroom, but you may miss something worth watching.
Three Stars- Good, try to tame your bladder.
Four Stars- Very Good, don't touch that dial.
Five Stars- Excellent, nothing else but this show really matters right now.
CSI Miami: Second episode: 2.5 stars Third episode: 3.5 stars
I originally gave this show 3.5 out of 5 stars. After watching the second episode last week, and bracing for a third this week, I'm afraid that my enthusiasm for this show may be waning quickly. Simply put, there is just not much action in this series. Let's be up front-- life in a morgue just ain't the bomb (no bad taste meant here based on last week's episode). David Caruso and Kim Delaney are so serious and somber in their roles that I'm scared that if they ever smiled, their faces would shatter. This show needs a little bit of action and levity. If it can't infuse these elements into it, I'll be watching my eyelids more often instead. Was rating it 2.5 stars, upped to 3.5 after the improved episode three

Haunted: 1 star After the first half of the second episode, I just couldn't take it any more. This show is just too dark and depressing. A warning to CSI Miami.

The Twilight Zone: 3.5 stars This continues to stand up well in quality and content. We're still at around 3.5 stars.

Birds of Prey: This new show debuts this week, and I'm looking forward to it, but regretably it's also one on one against the Twilight Zone-- this is where the real horse race of the Fall season will be for crazed fan boys and girls. More news next week! ¹

Good Morning Miami: My bad-- Denis Lebrun and I were having a late dinner at the Pizza Hut at that time. Hopefully I'll see it again this week and update you next week.

¹ UPDATE: 10-10-02. "Birds of Prey":  4 stars   Wow! This show's got it all. If it's related to Batman it's gotta to be good, but this is worlds ahead of the Batman series that I grew up with in the 60's. In this series the Joker (voice by Mark Hamill) exacts revenge on Batman by killing his wife Selina Kyle (Catwoman), leaving their daughter Helena Kyle (the Huntress) orphaned. She is adopted through the good graces of Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) who also suffers the Joker's revenge by being shot and paralyzed by him. Confined to a wheelchair, Gordon fights crime through high-tech and through the meta-human Huntress. The two are then empowered even further through the psychic abilities of teenager Dinah Lance. Ashley Scott wonderfully portrays the Huntress. In addition to being a true "knockout", the Huntress is sleek, powerful, and has a ton of attitude. Her ton of attitude is complimented well by actress Dina Meyer's more gentle and mature demeanor. Rachel Skarsten portrays psychic Dinah Lance, bringing a light hearted youthful element to the show. Add butler Alfred Pennyworth and New Gotham Detective Jesse Reese (played by Shamar Moore) to the mix and you have the chemistry for a great series. This rates as my favorite new show at 4 stars.---Will


The Top 5 Dead Money-Earning Celebrities
Nolan here---This was overheard on the news and I just had to share it with you. While not all entries are obscene and morbid after-effects of American Pop Culture and capitalism, some are:
1. Elvis Presley: $37 million a year
2. Charles Schultz (creator of "Peanuts") $28 million a year
3. John Lennon (former-Beatle) $20 million a year.
4. Marilyn Monroe 20 million a year
5. Theodore "Dr. Suess" Geisel (creator of "The Cat in the Hat") $18 million a year.

All I have to say is it's inspiring that there are cartoons that are top-earners after their creators are gone, but I'm deeply disturbed that Elvis has a current Number 1 hit 25 years after his death!


THE TOP TEN COMIC STRIPS OF ALL TIME

Rick's Comic Strip

THE TOP TEN (or so) COMIC STRIPS OF ALL TIME        by Scott A. Gilbert
Once again you have chosen a topic I cannot limit to just 10 choices. Damn you! Damn you all to hell!
PS--- Soylent Green is people.

1. Krazy Kat - first strip to reject all genre conventions.
2. Polly & Her Pals - incredibly inventive strip visually, using formal repetition and rhythms that rivaled contemporary efforts in other visual art forms.
3. Thimble Theater - birthplace of Popeye, but also an incredibly vital and pervasive drama, on a thimble scale.
4. Gasoline Alley -another strip with wonderful inventiveness and convention-breaking, while retaining a "soap opera" structure and even extending that structure by having characters age in real time.
5. Wash Tubbs & Captain Easy - the prototypical adventure strip, again with boundless vitality and gorgeous drawing and storytelling.
6. Terry & the Pirates -the same with the stakes raised, plus Caniff's amazing brush work.
7. Prince Valiant - classical draftsmanship at work on a daily basis.
8. Peanuts - changed all the rules and set the pace for the next 50 years. Practically every current comic strip is an imitation of Peanuts.
9. Dick Tracy - utterly unique personal style and outrageous invention made Chester Gould a household name. His bloody stories revealed a generally hidden side of American life.
10. Little Orphan Annie - the same as Tracy, but with a more thoughtful and pastoral approach. A perfect and far-reaching soap opera.
11. Pogo - the best use of satire in comic strips, ever, plus splendid drawing.
12. Lil' Abner - captured the nation's attention, and the most vital strip since Segar's Thimble Theater. Even approached Pogo's level of satirical political commentary.
13. Bringing Up Father - unique art deco style yoked to Irish jokes and a sit-com format before there were sitcoms. Birthed hundreds of imitators.
14. Flash Gordon - science fiction soap opera on a grand scale, with the astounding grace of Alex Raymond's swashbuckling artwork.
15. The Phantom/Mandrake the Magician - along with Gordon and Buck Rogers, these were superheroes before Superman, and huge international hits.
16. Barnaby & His Magic Pencil - a unique vision in newspaper strip comics with an appeal for children of all ages. Narrative invention allowed the mating of the mundane and the magical.
17. Rick O'Shay - a precise, perfect Western strip.
18. Brenda Starr - Dick Tracy for girls.
19. Tumbleweeds - a unique graphic vision and a wacky, Peanuts like sense of whimsy wrapped up in a weird Western setting. Has come to a very poor state currently, however.
20. White Boy - an early Western comic that exceeded the bounds of the genre in terms of visual and thematic beauty.

Yours truly,
--Scott Gilbert

Thank you, Scott, always an honor, sir! Readers, Scott has an amazing website where you can view his strip "True Artist Tales" at www.apeshot.com.---Nolan

THE TOP TEN COMIC STRIPS OF ALL TIME        by Matt Drinnenberg
It's great having a new, fresh perspective on the top 10. Have to thank the Rickster for such a solid suggestion. And away we go with.......

1. The Far Side: This was an easy one for me. I'm laughing as I recall such classics as "Bummer of a birthmark, Hal", "kat fud" (oh please, oh please), and my personal favorite, "The origin of dessert". My brother and I saw that at the same time and both laughed so hard we caused a public disturbance. If you know of the particular spots I'm speaking, I'm sure you're laughing now, too.
2. Bloom County: Steve Dallas, Opus, Bill the Cat...Ack!!!!.....'nough said.
3. Calvin and Hobbes: The only thing I can add to what everyone else has written is this -- infantile brilliance!!!
4. Peanuts: Probably deserves to be number 1. Certainly there can be no debate the characters are iconic. and of course....there's the football thing. (Sorry, Nolan)
5. Shoe: My favorite strip while I lived in Germany. Couldn't wait for each new issue of Stars and Stripes just so I could check out the next installment. Kind of a kindred thing as my clerical desk resembled Shoes'.
6. Funky Winkerbean: Yes, high school was fun. Especially when Funky showed up on picture day and appeared in our High School Yearbook....oh wait....that was Mark Goshen. Hey...there's a "where is he now"? As for Funky, he was all the rage way back when. I'm almost certain everyone in my high school read it.
7. Beetle Baily: Took on greater importance when I joined the service. Had no idea most sergeants in the Army were really like Sarge...but they are. Greatest thing about Beetle is that he was smarter than everyone else, and usually had the best plan. It would all fall apart from there.
8. Doonesbury: This strip has always reminded me of Bullwinkle and Rocky. How, you ask? Because both dealt with reality and political corruption and stupidity while entertaining the adolescence in all of us.
9. BC: Loved this because it dealt with the harsh realities of how we treat each other in an every day experience...but in a funny way. Always made me happy I wasn't a snake...although some girls I dated in the past may believe I was a snake.
10. True Artist Tales: As I state on my site's links page, comic art on the cutting edge. I'm not just putting this here because Scott Gilbert is a life long friend. I'm putting this here because, after thoughtful consideration, it deserves to be. Thought provoking, wry, sly, and humorous. Here's to you SAG.

THE TOP TEN (or so) COMIC STRIPS OF ALL TIME        by Nolan B. Canova
Just remember, I'm notorious for updating my damn lists interminably to include a billion Honorable Mentions I'm pissed I forgot the first time!

1. Doonesbury. I had already been leaning away from simple "funnies" when this solidified my feeling that the more interesting comics could and did have a point of view political or otherwise. A necessary nod to Pogo for being first, Doonesbury named names. I believe this remains the only comic strip to win a Pulitzer Prize.
2 Bloom County/Outland. Incredibly, at first I regarded Bloom County as a "Doonesbury" knock-off, promoted because Gary Trudeau was being difficult. Berke Breathed eventually matched and occasionally superceded Doonesbury with an alternate reality that was both bizarre, yet familiar. "Outland" was the Sunday-only version that pushed the boundaries as far as they could go. Really nothing like it around today.
3 Calvin & Hobbes. Until I abandoned my very last car earlier this year, a 1981 Ford Fairmont, I kept a sticker of Calvin on my glove compartment door. It's of him fuming mad. I don't know anybody who couldn't relate to this. The imaginary world of 6-year-old Calvin and his "pet" tiger was one I lived in. Didn't think anybody knew that. Bill Watterson proved me wrong. Alternately promoted as a "Dennis the Menace for the millenium", I never quite agreed with that.
4 Fox Trot. This one may surprise a lot of you. When I was thinking about this list, my first thought was "what are the strips I must read if time is of the essence?" I am really attracted to this strip, and especially the relationships between the siblings. TRUE STORY: On my 'fridge, I have a Sunday Fox Trot from 1995 where each panel displays a Marvel or DC comics character inhabited by Jason Fox or his friend Marcus. At the last panel, Paige, the older sister, walks in to Jason's bedroom where the two boys are reading dozens of comics, and says "MORE comic books?? I swear I can't figure what you geeks see in these things!" But, of course, I did.
5 Prince Valiant (Hal Foster version). When I was learning to draw comics, this strip was de riguer. The stories themselves were a little slow-moving, but the art/draftmanship was heads-and-tails WAY above everything else put out in the comics. Foster's successor, John Cullen Murphy, gives it a "valiant" try, but it ain't the same.
6 The Far Side. Gary Larsen set a tone for several imitators, but all roads lead back here. An altered-mood experience comic, like few before or since.
7. Peanuts. I agree with Scott Gilbert that the late Charles Schultz created the blueprint for the modern daily comic with this (well, this and "Blondie", see below). Further, Peanuts exploded the floodgates with award-winning Holiday specials, some still get regular airplay after nearly 40 years. Ihat, by itself, is amazing. A cultural icon that covers every aspect of media publishing successfully.
8. Garfield. If I had a dime for every person who said they knew somebody exactly like Garfield. As a cat-lover/owner, I identify with the cat and I identify with the dullard owner, Jon. Believe it or not, as old as this strip is, it still makes me laugh out loud.
9. BC. The prolific Johnny Hart on this and "The Wizard of ID", keeps a fine balance on humorous political topics using cavemen (BC) and medieval themes (ID). TRUE STORY: B.C. is the only comic strip that has ocasionally stumped me, by frustrating me with vague punchlines. Also, Hart tends to soapbox his Christianity a little too often through the strip for my taste.
10. Dilbert. I could identify with this much more when I worked for Qualex Photo, but it still serves as a stinging reminder that corporate minds never get any smarter, whoever you work for.
11. Flash Gordon/The Phantom. Space-men and jungle super-heroes at a time I was really into that. Alex Raymond and Lee Falk, respectively, helped tutor me in line-drawing and storytelling in chapters.
12. True Artist Tales. Home-boy Scott A. Gilbert's ongoing autobiography relates personal experiences online in well-done sequential style. Has already collated some strips in at least one book that I'm aware of, called, "It's All True!"
13. Broken Seal/Youth In Asia (Internet-only--Legion Studios). I'm a sorry surfer of the internet, pretty much go where I'm told, or what's suggested. Met Legion Studios early this year, and, whatever else you may say about them, Christian Dumais (Doo-MAY) has created an online comic psychotic and personal enough to attract me regularly. That's unique enough to qualify this as the only internet-only entry in my list. I preferred their original Quicktime-viewer version of these strips, but apparently others didn't, and the strips are uploaded as regular HTML docs now for easier viewing. (Our own Rick Sousa vows to have me exploring more of his online-only faves soon.)
14. Sally Forth. Another shocker, I know, but to me the driest humor regarding families is here. Same goes for Arlo and Janis.

Historically speaking: The Spirit. I didn't grow up with this, but have all the books. Will Eisner is God.

Favorites from a historical perspective, other than the ones already noted that either Tampa's paper doesn't get anymore, or they've gone out of production:Tumbleweeds, Funky Winkerbean, Tiger(?), The Lockhorns, Henry, Nancy, Andy Capp, Pogo.
Altho I have great respect for the artistic finesse of Al Capp, I never really got into Li'l Abner, sorry--redneck humor is a by-product of my geography and helped me to get jaded to it early on.

Comfortable-old-pair-of-shoes dept: Comics that I'd hate to see missing from the paper, although their current relevance, outside of familiarity, is sometimes difficult to defend...
Blondie. I'm glad this strip is there, despite sustaining 70-year-old running gags, it, to me, defines a newspaper comic strip (pre-dating Peanuts). PCR writer and life-long friend Will Moriaty was involved in its production for some time, and Will's best friend, strip's artist Denis Lebrun, brings to the strip his mastery of the STROKE; it's still done by hand, only there hasn't been paper involved for some time--it's all rendered directly to computer (can't tell by looking at it, can ya? That's the point. As I understand it, more and more strips are done this way, soon it'll ALL be computered). One of the very few strips to be running in nearly every newspaper in nearly every country in the world. And that's gotta count for something.
Snuffy Smith. Been there as long as I can remember, and I once met the late Fred Laswell, strip's artist for decades, and worked with one of his sons for a while. Relevance now? See "redneck humor."
Beetle Bailey: Army humor is lost on me; at peacetime it's incongruous, and at war nothing's funny, plus I grew up with an extreme fear of the draft. I thought it was neat that Beetle is Lois's brother (of Hi and Lois, another comfortable old pair of shoes, and an amazingly long-lasting version of the "family-oriented" strips.).

Sacharrine overdose dept. Far and away The Family Circus; one panel (or circle) cartoons depicting the innocence of the adult's world thru a child's eyes. Even when I thought I could identify with it, I felt it was a fantasy.
Followed by Rose is a Rose (oh, I know I'll get shit about this one). I like the parts where the two of them occasionally lapse into child-like personas depending on the situation. I like the cat. The rest of it is too pie-in-the-sky for me.



La Floridiana This week's issue
La Floridiana by William Moriaty
The Paranormal in Florida: Haunted St. Augustine. Ah---October in Florida--the rain and humidity of summer starts to become more scarce, giving way to clear skies, a few cool breezes, shorter days with longer shadows, football and that most wonderful of October things: Halloween. So what better way to get into a Halloween mood than tell some ghost stories? Let's start our ghost stories in Florida's oldest city, St. Augustine, a town rife with the spirits of the dead...... ..................................Click here for more.

Movie ReviewMovie Review
This Week's Movie Reviews:
"RED DRAGON"

Review by Mike Smith.
Review by Nolan Canova.
  .........................................Click here for more.

Murder on the Woo Woo Express This week's issue
Murder on the Woo Woo Express by Patty G. Henderson
The Express was derailed last month. Okay, we missed an edition, but we're back with two great reviews for woo woo mystery lovers. One of our favorite reviewers, Teri Davis, is back this month with reviews of James Blaylock's NIGHT RELICS and Barbara Rogan's SUSPICION..... ........................Click here for more.

Mike's Rant This week's issue
Mike's Rant by Michael A. Smith
DEAD MEN EARNING.Money-making dead celebs.......DAILY LAUGH MAKERS. Top 10 comic strips, redux.......PLEASE GOD, NO!.The actors who might be Superman....... ........................Click here for more.


Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.


To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan


"Mike's Rant" is ©2002 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2002 by Matthew Drinnenberg    "La Floridiana" is ©2002 by William Moriaty    This week's movie review of "Red Dragon" is ©2002 by Michael A. Smith and ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova for their respective columns.    "Murder on the Woo Woo Express" is ©2002 by Patty G. Henderson     All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova ©2002; all rights reserved.