Bringing Home the Freshest Kill

Posts in the Ricky Sprague category


In years past — specifically, each December — I’ve celebrated the medium of blogging by inviting writers I like to compose guest posts here, at this blog.

These events have gone by the moniker “A BORSCHT-IN,” and they have been good fun.


Part of the fun was watching talented scribes like Daniel Kalder and Ricky Sprague do their thing, and do it damn well.


But this year, I’m inverting the process. This year, instead of soliciting blog posts for this site, I’m offering to guest-post at other peoples’ blogs in December.

Lucy Steigerwald on Hollywood Boulevard

I’ve already promised the brilliant Lucy Steigerwald an item for her blog. I also have something brewing for the blog of my amazing friend Ruth Waytz.

Ruth as Clay Matthews

So, I humbly throw this idea out to the shifting, whispering sands of the Internet — who else would like to taint their brand by allowing me to pilot their blog for a post or two during the month of December?

I only have one rule for this experiment — if you ask me to blog for you, you must assign me a blogging topic.

Somehow it just seems more fun that way.

Game on, comrades.


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Pal Ricky recently visited town, and that means I was able to get my hands on some issues of his latest comic book, Senator Surprise.

It’s good. It’s funny. It’s good fun.

Some images here:

Senator Surprise No

Senator Surprise


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I’ve been reading comic books since I was a wee sprite. So I’ve been following the medium long enough to spot weird patterns and trends.

Here’s one that continues to trouble me:

The barely believable moral code of supervillains.

Ever notice that — whenever a villain has a chance to kill his super-hero nemesis — the villain declines, offering such questionable logic as “I cannot kill Super Guy this way. It would be too clean, too easy. There would be no honor.”

Sure. Whatever.

I think we can all translate the proper meaning here. “The publisher cannot afford to kill this top merchandising brand right now, or ever.”

Exhibit A.

In this panel (a flashback to a previous issue), notorious crime lord Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin, a longtime foe of Spider-Man, saves Spider-Man from certain death at the hands of the Hobgoblin, another storied nemesis of the web-slinger. Why? It’s “simply good business” says Fisk.

Really, Kingy? Suddenly, you decide that keeping Spider-Man alive is “good business“? What about all those times you plotted to kill him, hired someone to kill him, or fought him yourself in hand-to-hand combat? All those memories are just erased to ensure that the publisher’s title and current story arc trudge onward? I am not a fool, Marvel. Take this back to the chef. (I love the John Romita Jr. artwork though.)

Exhibit B.

Another implausible scenario. Dr. Doom has the Fantastic Four — his greatest enemies — trapped inside his kingdom, Latveria. He even has an “inhibitor ray” on them to mute their powers. So what does he do? He lets them go. Naturally.

Now, perhaps I’m being too cynical. As my pal Ricky points out, Doom is a notoriously sentimental supervillain. He cried after 9-11, for instance. And he was college buddies with the Fantastic Four’s leader, Reed Richards. (Below is the 9-11 panel in question).

Exhibit C.

Ricky found this stellar example. It’s from Captain America No. 133. The villain in question is MODOK, a levitating guinea pig.

The strangeness of MODOK, particularly his female permutations, deserves a post all its own. But that’s a story for another day.

One last example of supervillains’ contradictory and/or esoteric moral codes is the super-group Masters of Evil. Great name, right? How’d you think of that one, guys? Sat around a conference table and threw suggestions into a hat?

Anyway, look at this pic. It has more diversity than a United Colors of Benetton ad.

You have Thunderball, an African American, on the far upper right. You have Baron Zemo, a Nazi, addressing the group. You have Mr. Hyde, a mentally challenged villain, kneeling. You have Tiger Shark, who’s basically a fish. You have three (count ’em, 3!) women.

And we fans are to believe that these individuals, from such diverse and even divergent social groups, all gather for the sake of…what, exactly? Evil?

In essence, supervillainy trumps petty social differences. Or supervillains are incredibly tolerant people, behind the curtain of evilness. We are asked to suspend disbelief and follow this logic.

OK, fair enough. I’ve read prisoners’ accounts of their time in the Big House, and one recurring theme is that the skinheads and black prisoners “get along” fairly well — mostly because they are so upfront about their group solidarity. There is no moral ambiguity, no grey area — if push came to shove, each would slit the other’s throat, and neither makes an attempt to conceal this. Therefore a strange sort of respect emerges.

It’s more plausible than Dr. Doom saying “Leave my kingdom, Fantastic Four! I don’t feel like killing you right now. There would be no sport in it.”

Anyway, if you’re looking for a more challenging and complex interplay between supervillain and super-hero psychologies, I recommend Daredevil No. 180, in which Daredevil forges through the sewers of New York to find the Kingpin’s long-lost wife, Vanessa.

It’s one my all-time faves. At one point, Daredevil, hobbling around on a crutch, gives the crutch to a damned, legless soul, who proceeds to mock him for his generosity.

When I was busy reading that at age 10, I’m sure my parents thought I was knee-deep in innocuous “Whap! Bam! Pow!” mindlessness.

If only!

P.S. Here is a good analysis of the Batman/Joker psychological interchange by Erik Henriksen at the Portland Mercury.

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Self portrait of Steve Ditko asleep at drawing...

Self portrait of Steve Ditko asleep at drawing board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Daniel Kalder: “Stan Lee went to Hollywood where he spent three decades failing to score any big movie deals; Jack Kirby died embittered at his treatment by the firm; and Steve Ditko turned to publishing bizarre Randian tracts in tiny print runs. By the 1990s, Marvel was fuelling a weird spectator boom with multiple covers on new first issues of comics that they printed by the million and which were obviously never going to be worth anything. A couple of disastrous business decisions later and they went bust, only to be bought over by Ike Perlmutter, an Israeli toy manufacturer who had begun his business career in America in the late 1960s, when he was paid to recite Hebrew prayers at Jewish funerals.”
  • More Kalder: “Just before Christmas I read Happy Moscow, an unfinished novel from the 1930s, set in the soviet capital just as the city was assuming its modern form. As with all of Platonov’s novels the prose is weirdly alienating but also intimate, and the book teems with tropes from the “Golden Age of Stalinism” if you will permit me to use such a phrase. Moscow Chestnova, the titular heroine, is a beautiful girl who becomes a parachutist; she goes to work in the metro but loses a leg; then she moves in with a bizarre, shiftless character who has more or less given up on life.”
  • The Soviet space dogs entry on Wikipedia: “Bars (Барс (pron. “Barss” not “Barz”; “Snow leopard”) and Lisichka (Лисичка, “Little Fox”) were also on a mission to orbit as a part of the Vostok programme, but died after their rocket exploded 28.5 seconds into the launch on July 28, 1960. Bars was also known as Chayka (“Seagull”).Other dogs that flew on sub-orbital flights include Dymka (Дымка, “Smoky”), Modnitsa (Модница, “Fashionable”) and Kozyavka (Козявка, “Little Gnat”).”
  • Also — Wikipedia’s monkeys in space entry
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I’m growing a beard for 2013. I hope it goes well.

2012 was a nice year. One thing I really liked about it was the contribution of guest-bloggers to this site.

All 2012 guest-bloggers are depicted below. Please give them a round of enthusiastic applause because they are awesome people who do the Really Good Thing and rule.

In fact, I like them so much that I invite ’em  to blog here permanently and at their leisure,  if they so desire.

Thanks much, guys…



Daniel Kalder



Matt Duvall



Ricky Sprague



Scott Stein



Ruth Waytz

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Good news! My friend Ricky Sprague has a brand new e-book available for purchase at Amazon.com.


A synopsis:


The world as we know it is changing. Once relegated to the fringes of society, the geeks now control all aspects of culture, and its means of consumption. At the forefront of this revolution is Geeker Media programmer Brendan Kidd. As the World’s Greatest Champion he remains tireless in the struggle for quality entertainment! Whether it’s spending hundreds of hours a month reading comics and playing video games, or posting thousands of snarky comments on websites like Reddit and Rotten Tomatoes, Brendan will stop at nothing ensure that the good is praised, while the bad is viciously and mercilessly mocked!

But when Brendan’s free pass to a screening of “The Avengers” is threatened, he’ll have to face down the greatest challenge anyone has ever faced! Then, with barely any time to catch his breath, Brendan also must deal with the so-called artist who is stealing his girlfriend and using his life as the inspiration for his completely execrable self-published comic book (which stinks)! Can Brendan maintain the courage and focus necessary to deal with these senses-shattering events? Will he be able to narrow down his list of favorite season-three episodes of “Community” to just ten entries? Will he discover the shocking secret of the German amateur star of his favorite pornographic video? Who are the mysterious 50K? Will someone please explain to him why “The Big Bang Theory” is so popular?


Collecting the complete FABULOUS FANBOY novel (Chapters #1 – #14, with bonus Easter Egg), by Ricky Sprague (author of Whimsical Dr Shoe and Arsole Fantüme, Gentleman Immoralist, and director of Sperm! The Motion Picture, Zany Dick!, and Trilby)!

I implore you all to buy this book immediately.

— mc

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Here’s the controversial “Innocence of Muslims,” the best cinematic meisterwerk since “Cool as Ice”: bit.ly/U8nDk9

— Jim Goad (@jimgoad) September 13, 2012

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