Category Archives: Randomosity

Sidekicks

(We’ve got another guest post from Hammerknight this week in his “Comics Talk” series. Many thanks, HK!)

The Dictionary says; 1. a close friend. 2. a confederate or assistant.

Sidekick Application
sidekick-app

But as we all know a Sidekick is more than that. Over the years there have been many Sidekicks paired up with our Comic Book Heroes. Some famous and some not so famous. If you sit down and think about it, how important are Sidekicks, could our Heroes have made it with out them? What does it take to be a Sidekick? Who gets to name them? Where do they come from? How old is a Sidekick? Why are some replaced and others just fade away? Who finds who, the Hero or the Sidekick? And what is up with some of those costumes they wear?

Let’s break it down, first off, “Could our Heroes make it without a Sidekick?”, that is a very good question. Yes, there are many Heroes out there that do not have Sidekicks, does that mean that they are better than the ones that do have them? The answer to that is “no.” All Heroes get support from someone, be it a family member, a spouse, a Doctor friend, other Heroes and team mates, and yes even the butler is there for them.

So what, you ask, do Sidekicks do for the Hero they work with that the butler does not? Sidekicks can add that little edge that is needed in a fight. They can help cut the Hero free when the Hero has been captured. They can be the bait for a trap. They can create a diversion to help give the Hero the upper hand. And many other helpful things that a person can do that is right there along side of the Hero in the heat of battle.

What does it take to be a Sidekick? It takes a lot, more than some people will ever know. First off, there are some Heroes out there that are hard to get along with. You have to put up with being the butt of the joke and being comedy relief. Most of the time you have to go to school during the day and fight crime at nights, and that leaves no free time to hang out with your friends. You have to be in just as good of shape as the Hero, if not better, in order to keep up with them. You always have to be one step ahead of the Hero, by thinking like them. What helps this a lot is to
have had a life that is almost just like the Hero’s.

Who gets to name them? The Hero that’s who. You know that the Sidekick has to have a name that goes with the Hero’s name. It just would not be right to have a name that didn’t match. For example, there would be no way Batman would have his Sidekick named Potato Kid, it would not fit at all. So the Hero will more than likely name the Sidekick. This does not mean that the Sidekick will always
get a cool name.

Where do they come from? From all walks of life. For the most part, something has happen to their family and they are taken in by the Hero. Sometimes they are big fans of the Heroes and somehow find out who the Hero really is, leaving the Hero with no choice but to take them on as Sidekick. Being born into the family business is another way. But that doesn’t always mean that both parents are Heroes, in some cases one of the parents has been a Villain, but that doesn’t make them any less of a Sidekick. We all know things happen.

How old is a Sidekick? That can be hard to say. Back in the day they were both young and old. Some would start as a young kid that is taken in by the Hero and trained to fight crime. Others were good friends with the Hero, and sometimes even an old partner from days gone by. You have to ask yourself, how young is to young? For the most part the Sidekicks are like the Hero’s kid, and they won’t let their kid start up if they are not ready to. Would you? Now days you have to think about the laws, what would the Child Protective Service do if they see a Hero out fighting crime with a ten or twelve year old. There would be some trouble. A kid can’t even have a part time job without being over sixteen these days. And to take it in the other direction, how old is to old to be a Sidekick? Does a Hero want their Sidekick to be older then they are? Do you really think you would see someone like Green Arrow having his Granny be his Sidekick? Now nothing against Granny, she could probably out shoot him blind folded, but come on, she has already had her time to shine, let the young ones take over. Besides, she is out kicking it with Grandpa.

Why are some replaced and others just fade away? Over the years there have been Sidekicks replaced by a younger Sidekick. This happens when the first Sidekick has moved up and became a Hero. Where did you think Heroes come from? Or that the first Sidekick has had enough of the business and wants to move on in life. One of the sad ways that a Sidekick is replaced, is when they are injured or sometimes killed in the line of duty. Let’s all take time now and bow our heads to pay respect
to all of the fallen Sidekicks and Heroes that are no longer with us. Okay, some Sidekicks just fade away. There are a lot of reasons why. One of the reasons is that the Hero could not bear to replace them after something has happened to them. Another one, is that they have moved over to the Dark Side. Sorry couldn’t help it, they have become Villains. Not wanting to name names, some have had personal problems, like drug addiction.

Who finds who, the Hero or the Sidekick? It has happened both ways. It makes you wonder sometimes if there is a school out there for both Heroes and Sidekicks. Do they have to apply for the job? Could you see the Application for a Sidekick job? Well I did (in my mind that is) when I started to write these. I was thinking it would be cool to make one up and to share it with everyone.

What is up with some of those costumes they wear? Does the Sidekick supply their own costumes or does the Hero? You know that the costume will have to match, in ways, the Hero’s costume. Makes you wonder if the Hero is looking for a mini version of their costume or just something that will help make their costume look better. Some of the Sidekick costumes yell out”Hey look at me, I’m a Sidekick.” While others can stand on their own. Would you want a Sidekick’s costume to be a mini version of yours, a stand on it’s own, or one that would compliments your costume? And if you were the Sidekick would you want a say in the matter?

I hope that everyone has enjoyed what I have to say about Sidekicks. I would love to hear what you think, so post some comments and be heard.

Thanks all,
Hammerknight

Neil Gaiman and HeroMachine (sort of )

With thanks to Nathan for sending this in, Neil Gaiman apparently did a riff on “Worst Comic Book Characters of All Time” for what I assume is a Canadian comedy show, and the intros for each entry have HeroMachine 2 character illustrations! Check it out:


via videosift.com

Methinks I might turn this into a contest for next time, as I am sure you guys could come up with characters even worse than these if you put your minds to it!

This has been an interesting few months, first the incomparably awesome Michael Chabon mentioned that his kids use HeroMachine, and now it’s a sideline in a Neil Gaiman comedy hour. Granted, I doubt Gaiman had any clue they were even doing visuals for the bit, much less where they came from, but still — he’s at least ten kinds of legendary, so to be in the same segment (even accidentally) is pretty cool.

Let’s get Hammered! Or, HammerKNIGHTed.

With many thanks to the ever-awesome Hammerknight, here are two more fun puzzles to help you while away your hangover tomorrow, and to prepare for the getting of your hangover today. Print them out and have fun! (As usual, click on each to get a larger, more printable version.)

first-appearance-puzzle
heroes-and-villains-puzzles

And in super-small size so as to not spoil them, after the jump is your answer key.

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Goofing off time!

Hammerknight was kind enough to put together a nifty crossword puzzle to help you pass the time this holiday when family time crosses over from warm and endearing to homicide-inducing and you need to just get away for a few minutes. Print it for handy use later while pretending to gaze admiringly at the “Twisted Sister” sweat shirt your grandmother just gave you because she’s so hip!

Here’s your answer key, in unreadable small size so we don’t spoil the challenge (click it for the viewable size):

who-am-i-marvel-key

Merry Christmas to all of you celebrating it today! And special holiday thanks to Hammerknight for taking the time to put this together for our collective amusement.

Super pets

After the discovery of Bulletdog, aka Greatest Super Pet Ever, I started looking into what other super-hero comic book pets themed after their human companion have been handed down through the ages.

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Stan Lee interviews Rob Liefeld

If you get the chance, head on over to Comics Alliance to read Chris Sims’ take-by-take breakdown of great early Nineties video of Stan Lee interviewing Rob Liefeld. Chris is a very funny writer and the whole article is a quick and amusing read. Choice bits include:

3:09 – We’ve got to admit, there’s something utterly hypnotic about watching Rob Liefeld draw pouches and armbands on a guy, and it’s only made better by the pure joy in his voice when he explains to Stan that they’re full of explosive boomerangs.

5:04 – As Liefeld rushes to finish the drawing on Stan’s deadline, Stan starts joking about how his suggestion to add spikes makes Cross a collaboration, and starts referring to him as “my character” and “our creation.” He’s laughing. Rob’s laughing. Steve Ditko is gritting his teeth.

Chris also makes a very telling serious point, though:

0:25 – This is quite possibly the most mind-blowing moment of the video, as at this point, it comes out that the latest issue of “X-Force” had sold OVER FIVE MILLION COPIES. Just to give you an idea, Diamond Comic Distributors’ best-selling comic for July 2009 was “Captain America Reborn” #1, which came in just under 200,000.

Comics were big, huge, ginormous, incredibly big business. Like the real estate market, some of that was artificially inflated by speculating investors buying many copies of each big issue, but still, the industry today is a fractured, tiny portion of what it was then. Five million copies of X-Force, folks, that’s a lot of paper being pushed to the public.

You can view the video on YouTube if you like. Chris’ regular site is “The Invincible Super-Blog” and is a daily must-read for me, the guy’s a hoot.

Real life costuming

In lieu of my usual “Bad Costume Wednesday”, I wanted to take this chance to show you some of the stellar outfits I saw while at Dragon*Con this past weekend. I was really blown away by the time, dedication, hard work, and imagination people put into assembling these costumes. What struck me the most was not only how good they looked, but how much fun they were having. Almost without exception, they were eager to stop for pictures, and were happy to strike the most super-heroic of poses.

When you see comic-book clothing brought into the real world, you’re immediately faced with problems you never have to consider when you’re just drawing lines on a page. How do you hide the seams of a soft boot top as it joins with the shoe? Where does Flash’s zipper go? How do you keep a cloth face mask from slumping off your cheeks? These guys and gals have dealt with all of that and more (don’t ask me how they go pee, for instance, I’m pretty sure it involves some sort of complicated AMA-certified device).

So without further ado, I bring you the Best of John and Jeff’s Magical Mystery Dragon*Con Tour in photos.

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Great comics artists

The Onion AV Club has a great article up featuring their list of the most influential comics artists of all time. It’s a great introduction to guys you younger folk might not have heard of, but who nonetheless have influenced the comics and cartoons you love. Even old-timers like me can learn from it, too.

Plus, you gotta love a guy who can put together a paragraph like this:

He had legions of fans, even though he couldn’t actually draw; when he—along with Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, and other controversial artists—helped form the creator-owned Image Comics in 1992, the world learned that he couldn’t write, either. Since then, it’s been revealed that he can’t do much of anything else. Still, there’s no denying that the guy owned the 1990s. It was a strange decade.

Three guesses who that’s about, and the last two don’t count. Anyway, check it out, it’s a great article. And if you think someone was left off the list who ought to be included (Frank Miller, John Buscema, etc.) let ‘er rip in the comments.

Blog fail

Yeah, it turns out I have no idea what “Friday Hero Dissection” means, which is what I am supposed to be doing today. So instead I am going to post this insanely cute picture of this kid who, let’s be honest, could be any one of us when we were younger, and by younger I mean “at any time in the last six months”:

One heck of a costume

One heck of a costume

Be prepared to set your Cuteness Deflector Shields to Ten if you click through to MyFirstFail.com, folks. You’ve been warned.

I gotta come up with something else to do on Fridays, I’m drawing a blank here. Suggestions welcome, consider this an open thread, yadda yadda yadda.

Mutant economics

Matt Yglesias posted a link to this discussion over mutant economics at “Ecocomics“, a blog I frankly never heard of before, and I got a good laugh out of it:

Tragically, most mutants use their powers to either save the world or terrorize it. At least this is the popular depiction in Marvel Comics. Imagine what Magneto could do if he worked in construction. For one thing, all of those New York City public works project would have their completion dates moved up from 2018 to roughly five minutes from now. But instead, he spends his time sinking Russian submarines and making asteroid bases to live in. For the love of God, the man has the power to build himself a high-tech home in space. He could repair the Hubbell telescope with no trouble whatsoever.

It’s actually a really good thought experiment. I don’t know how interesting a comic built along these lines would be to read — intense labor union discussions with management about the impact of Bob the Mutant Builder on the new collective bargaining agreement aren’t inherently visually appealing — but the fact is that a) most people, mutant or otherwise, would rather live quiet lives of desperation rather than trying to either save or destroy the world, and b) mutie’s gotta EAT, knowwhatImsayin? Your average non-Magneto mutant needs to put bread on the table and pay for custom Nikes to fit over his three-toed feet, and for that you need a J-O-B. Why flip burgers at McDonald’s when you could instead use your heat-vision power to be the best welder in the state, with a salary to match?

Anyway, the column was that rare intersection of thoughtful and comics so I thought I’d share it with you all.