Cuttings from The Super Dictionary

This is The Super Dictionary:

The Super Dictionary

It was published in 1978. It provides key vocabulary in a manner appealing to children. I like it a lot. Here’s a smattering of its dictionary goodness:

The Super Dictionary: goodness

I…I don’t know what to say. But that’s exactly what ‘goodness’ means.

The Super Dictionary: hug

Green Arrow is crap at sweet nothings.

The Super Dictionary: super

El Dragon is pretty super. He is totally the right man for this definition.

Continue reading Cuttings from The Super Dictionary


First thing today a Dinosaur Comics link pointed me towards minus, and with that half my morning was gone. It’s the most beautifully painted comic strip, and I ended up reading the whole archive. Shouldn’t have done that.

It’s hard to pin down, and I’m not the most knowledgeable comic reader, but mix the small-town atmosphere of Peanuts with the touching wonder of Calvin & Hobbes or xkcd, and you’re getting there. The stories always go off in odd directions, with the multiple-strip arcs delightfully bonkers, and the individuals sometimes making sense, and sometimes remaining ambiguous. But it’s the art-style that gets me – I just adore the faces and the pastely backgrounds.

My favourite is probably Mr North’s recommendation of #37, but #36 and #13 are great too. In fact I, ahem, ordered prints of them. Shouldn’t have done that. But they’ll look so lovely on my wall!

Sadly, the reason for the original link was to say minus has ended, which is sad. Hopefully it’ll all stay online.

Costumes and identities

Even if you’re not into superheroes1, read this for the writing:

This sad outcome even in the wake of thousands of dollars spent and months of hard work given to sewing and to packing foam rubber into helmets has an obvious, an unavoidable, explanation: a superhero’s costume is constructed not of fabric, foam rubber, or adamantium but of halftone dots, Pantone color values, inked containment lines, and all the cartoonist’s sleight of hand. The superhero costume as drawn disdains the customary relationship in the fashion world between sketch and garment. It makes no suggestions. It has no agenda. Above all, it is not waiting to find fulfillment as cloth draped on a body. A constructed superhero costume is a replica with no original, a model built on a scale of x:1. However accurate and detailed, such a work has the tidy airlessness of a model-train layout but none of the gravitas that such little railyards and townscapes derive from making faithful reference to homely things. The graphic purity of the superhero costume means that the more effort and money you lavish on fine textiles, metal grommets, and leather trim the deeper your costume will be sucked into the silliness singularity that swallowed, for example, Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin and their four nipples.

Michael Chabon. *makes note to look him up on Amazon*.

  1. I feel for you []

Marvel’s demeaning Mary-Jane comiquette

In the wake of Spider-man III, Marvel have released a ‘comiquette’ of Mary-Jane. ‘Comiquettes’ are small sculptures depicting the character in a particular situation1 and the Mary-Jane depiction is causing quite the stir. With good reason.

Most comic-book artists and writers are, for whatever reason, male. For this reason you find a large number of thin-ish male superheroes who look relatively realistic – if the average guy went to the gym all day every day for a year, he could probably get a similar physique – and female superheroes who definitely don’t. Finding actresses to play Wonder Woman is really, really difficult, because no woman actually looks like that. Plenty of people object to this. I’m rather conflicted. Sometimes I think it’s harmless fun and that the average comic geek is perfectly capable of understanding it’s all fantasy, and sometimes I think it’s a bit much. I just read what seems to be a reasonable position: there’s no problem with any particular female superhero being permanently sexy and dressing in revealing outfits, but there’s a problem when they’re all this way

So what’s the fuss with the Mary-Jane figure? Firstly, she’s posed like a Playboy model. With incredibly long, vertical legs and bending over with low-riding jeans and visible thong, Kylie has nothing on her. Move around to the front and she has a cleavage that looks like she’s kidnapped Right Said Fred. If it stopped there I’d think it was tacky. It’s excessive and they’d get some deserved criticism – even if your aim is openly to make a sexy sculpture, you could be far classier about it – but I could possibly be convinced that your average teenage boy would get some entertainment out of it without thinking real women hang around in such poses. It might make an amusing joke-present, too. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s a reason she’s bending over: she’s washing Spider-man’s costume.

I’ll say it again: she’s washing Spider-man’s costume. Barefoot. Pictures here.

Clearly, you can’t defend that. There’s nothing inherently wrong with fantasising over looks – even if every comic geek is in fact only attracted to non-existent Supergirl-lookalikes, that still needn’t imply a lack of respect for women2 – but adding a clear element of subservience to the fantasy is unambiguously demeaning. I’m aware there’s worse out there, but this isn’t some small company run by some guy with a broken sense of humour, it’s one of two major players in a huge industry. What were they thinking?!

  1. I don’t actually have any, but wouldn’t be averse to getting one if they upped the quality – it’s a geek thing []
  2. although I can appreciate the argument that it does, as a side-effect []

Valentine’s Day

I had a great Valentine’s Day. I spent a lovely evening with a delightful companion, and I miss her today. Must. Concentrate. On. Work. Elsewhere, Google had a clever logo, xkcd was sarcastic (but has been beautifully touching before, so I don’t think he means it) and T-Rex wasn’t around, but a couple of years ago was rightfully getting told off by Utahraptor.

While on the Valentine’s theme, I really like this:


I sometimes see these things and later find out it’s a terrible photographic cliché, but I don’t think that matters.

I must not investigate Super Monkey

While there are many other things I could be doing, I’m irresistibly drawn to really bad comic covers. This one in particular is truly excellent, for:

Not only does it feature a ‘Legion of Super-Pets’…
Not only does the left-hand cover claim that shapeshifting isn’t a superpower…
Not only does it feature Krypto the Superdog biting somebody in the butt…
There’s a Super Monkey!!!!!

It is now my mission to discover more about Super Monkey. Except not now, because I have things to do. I must not investigate Super Monkey. Mustn’t. I will do something useful. I will not investigate Super Monkey until this evening.

Comic Cancellation

I’ve figured out a budget for moving into the flat, and it’s pretty tight. I’m having to cut back on a few things, including my regular comic order. I’ve been receiving the Superman / JLA comics each month for a few years now, but it’s one of those luxuries that has to go (at least until I can start earning some decent money 🙂 .) I just wanted to recommend my suppliers: Kathies Comics in Bristol. They’ve been friendly in emails, and have delivered everything just like you’d want. If there’s ever a supply problem at their end they always emailed to explain, as well as making sure to post the late items as soon as possible. I like them 🙂

As always in the comic world, this is a bad time to be dropping out. DC are building up to a massive revamp currently, although to follow it properly you need to subscribe to many more comics than I did. But, there’s always something to wait for. I’ll catch up when the trade paperbacks come out.