Monday, March 2, 2009

Some "Flakes of Brain-druff" on a Snowy Day

Stevenson U. finally gave up the ghost about an hour ago and closed the school for the day. When was the last major March snowfall on the Eastern Seaboard? I'm thinking 1993, but I could be wrong. Anyway, here are a handful of notes and comments on the passing scene...

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Gemstone Publishing's Disney comics line appears to be, as Gregory Weagle might say, dead, done, and toe-tagged. The Gemstone web site has removed all references to current comics releases and subscriptions and now offers only back issues. Before you begin to blame the rotten economy, consider the following:

(1) Gemstone's marketing strategy left a lot to be desired from the get-go. If Steve Geppi had trouble (and he has) spreading the word about Geppi's Entertainment Museum, that well-intentioned but cash-draining white elephant of a glorified "fanboy" project down at Camden Yards, then it's not surprising that the need to actively sell the comics was crippled from the same sort of "publish it and they will come" mentality.

(2) The cancellation of the "standard-format" ...AND FRIENDS comics some time ago made Gemstone products much more of a luxury item. UNCLE $CROOGE and WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES were handsomely produced and judiciously edited, to be sure, but they were no one's idea of an entry-level product.

(3) Gemstone made a mistake by cancelling the ADVENTURES pocket-book line, which, with adequate promotion, might well have served as the aforementioned entry-level publication that the company so desperately needed.

(4) The four-year gap between the demise of "Gladstone II" and the debut of Gemstone unquestionably leached away at least some of the fan base that had begun to drift off after the "Disney Comics Implosion" of 1991 and was further alienated by Bruce Hamilton's meddling with the content of the "G-II" comics. Given that American Disney comics was working from a perilously narrow base of support to begin with, all of these "aftershocks" rendered the Gemstone line less likely to survive any period of ill fortune.

Who... if anyone... picks up the American Disney comics baton next? Or is a "last-second reprieve" in our future? Stay tuned.

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I recently encountered "Xibit A" illustrating the sham of the modern-day "anti-war" movement. Traveling north on I-83 out of Baltimore, one passes an art studio called "Xibitz". For several years, the roof of the building featured a large peace sign. The last time I drove by the place, the sign was gone. Sure, the elements may have knocked the thing down, but it seems suspicious that the sign disappeared right after Barack Obama took office. Last time I checked, we still had troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we still will until at least the middle of 2010, if Obama's announced timetable is accurate. Are ongoing wars only palatable if a Democrat is running the show? (The same sort of mindset is at work when homeless people suddenly disappear from the news once a Democrat gets elected.)

Understand, I don't resent real, live, religious-based pacifism of the Quaker/Mennonite/left-wing Catholic variety. My uncle and aunt are anti-war in the "Catholic Worker" tradition, but I recognize and respect the reasons for their views, even though I don't philosophically agree with them. But this sort of ideologically driven pacifism, which we first saw during the Vietnam era, is another matter. What if another 9/11 crops up while a Republican is in the White House, and we are forced to take military action? Are we fated to have to endure active internal opposition anytime this happens, even when military force is supremely justified?

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Tonight, Notre Dame takes on Villanova in a Big East game that will go a long way towards determining the Irish's NCAA Tournament fate. Stevenson's men's and women's teams have long since packed up the ball-bags after another wretched campaign. Nicky and I support SU's teams as best we can, but next year, we need to see SOME evidence that the athletic department takes hoops success seriously. Both current coaches have been on the job ever since the programs began, and, if my student evaluations looked anything like their lifetime won-loss records, I'd be checking out the career Web sites about now.

BTW, for those interested in the progress of my NCAA Tournament book, I'm planning to spend a large chunk of the Summer trying to get as close to finishing it as possible. By August, I should be ready to contact publishers.

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The overall Disney front is as dreary as the outside weather right about now, but here's a cheery note: two days hence will mark a special anniversary for Disney TV Animation fans. Check back for a special tribute.

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