The Purple Pinup Guru Platform

When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

PP Guru:

The PP Guru is still keeping up with some of the current crop of comics that are coming out of DC and Marvel these days. He really is digging on the whole Infinity Crisis shebang that's going on with DC. He thought the $1.00 80 page introductory prologue set - up was just the shit- and had a very memorable time in Las Vegas reading it at his Purple Papa Pinup Guru's house over a few apple martini's and a half a pack of Parlie ciggies. And DC can't get a better endorsement than that to lure the crop of middle-aged readers back into the fold. The PP Guru adored the storyline so much that he's out now scoffing every related offshoot title he can get his squirrely mitts on including Villains United (the new Secret Six reformed), Day of Vengeance, (Where The Spectre kicks Shazam's ass) The Rann/Thangar War, & whatever the O.M.A.C one is (the title escapes the PP Guru at the moment.

But the PP Guru isn't really going all ape-shit over Marvel's big summer tent event, so the PP Guru has only regulated himself just in picking up the House of M mini-series that is currently being scribed by Brian Michael Bendis just to see where he takes this Scarlet Witch Gone Wild storyline which was the nail in the coffin responsible for canceling the Avengers after five hundred or so issues.

That's where the PP Guru is at concerning what's hip and trendy in being catered along with the rest of the fan boy kiddies - because, you know, no one can just survive on Deposit Man alone.

Recently, the PP Guru has become a recepticle for all those who live by the mantra on giving up your tired, giving up your poor, and giving up those old four color parrot paper liners that you don't really want or can't sell on E-Bay.

Friends and co-workers are constantly passing on their unwanted old comics and graphic novels to the PP Guru so that he can find a happy home for them. They usually find their way to the PP Guru's storage space or thrown onto his shag carpet which doesn't get vacumned very much. Softbound treasures such as Kurt Busiek's Arrowsmith, Image's The Walking Dead (which reminds the PP Guru: there will be a special zombie edition of his peabody awarding column, Strange Stirrings Below the PP Guru's Belt in the wake of George Romero's new Land of the Living Dead flick that opens this weekend), to the much ballyhooed Warren Ellis Planetary collection which he hasn't got around to reading yet.

So it was no surprise when one of PP Guru's colleagues at work - Peter the Great Head of Wit asked the PP Guru if he had ever heard of a mid-eighties comic book series called the Elementals. The PP Guru calls his co-worker that because, Peter the Great Head of Wit never fails to come up with a sardonic zinger at any given occasion, it's almost as if Oscar Wilde were resurrected and came rising out of his grave to lay insult to your Bar Mitzvah or came to perform a bris packed with only a toothbrush- Peter the Great Head of Wit just has that calming effect on the people he engages with.

Of course, the PP Guru had heard of the title. He had never read it, but he had heard of it.

Then, Peter the Great Head of Wit, imposed on whether or not, the PP Guru would be interested in taking the entire series of 40 plus issues off his hands since he failed to pawn them off on E-bay.

Of course, the PP Guru cajoled, does a kid with autism enjoy playing with mortar shells?

So the next day- a big plastic bag was dumped on the PP Guru's desk that landed with the impunity of a depth charge, courtesy of Peter the Great Head of Wit. The plastic bag had a Ralph's Supermarket logo. The PP Guru was not aware that Ralph had dealt in the used comic book market- but that's beside the point. The first issue the PP Guru pulled from the bag was this little gem:

Yeah, guest-starring the T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents - who would've thunk? Didn't Sparky do a big write up of this a few months back? But hell yeah, The PP Guru is always estatic for a Super Hero / Nazi smackdown on any given day of the week. Plus the Iron Maiden gets kicked off yet again and there's a team-up with this other team of heroes called the Justice Machine which was another mid-eighties spandex outfit he never heard of- but the special value behind this issue was the very first back up appearance of the Elementals.

The Elementals was, back in the day, a sort of hybrid between the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. The series was created by a young chap named Bill Willingham and was put out by a little comic book publishing house out of Norristown, Pennsylvania called Comico that lasted throughout most of the eighties and early ninties.

The basic premise is that these four individuals who have been given the powers of earth, wind, fire, and water by some covert government agency in order to help protect the earth from the inevitable apocalypse. Fathom was a green -skinned chick who could control the water (maybe she would have been better being called Algae or something - What's the connection between sea water and green-skin?), a ex-LAPD officer, code name, Morningstar was the chick who could combust into flame, A young boy, Tommy Czuchra is gifted with the cojones to transfer into the giant rock hard Monolith (our resident Ben Grimm, although arguments and debates suggest that he was a throwback to Hanna Barbera's the Herculoids series) - his power therefore representing earth, and finally, AWOL air force pilot, Jeff Murphy is able to harness the power of wind velocity and names himself Vortex. Now all four of these people came from different parts of the globe, but yet, in spite of their powers, they all have one major connection to each other:

Each member was resurrected from the dead.

Now so far, the PP Guru has only made it up to issue # 15, and he still doesn't know how this tragic event has united the four has come to take place- but based on what he has read so far of the series- the PP Guru does find it to be intriguing at least from the point of the writing. The few first issues, the PP Guru feels, was struggling to find it's voice- the dialogue in some places (especially in the Justice Machine Annual and the first three issues of the apted name series) are mighty clunky and cliched ridden- but for the subject matter of some of the stories and scripts was somehow innovative for its' era. Tough taboo subjects were parallel to what the major two were doing at the time when it came to pulling punches as to what Comico was able to get away with on the stands: you had open homosexual relationships, blatant racial slurring, rape, and offensive name calling. That's a pretty tall order for a super hero book- what other book in it's time could one find a super hero flying after a villain with vengeance in his eyes and vehemently crying out after him: 'You're dead meat, Dipshit!"? Wasn't happening in the Avengers, Justice League, or the Teen Titans - that's for sure.

The villains themselves didn't really have catchy monikers- if you think characters like Ratman, Captain Cadaver, or Sanction, won't make you bowl over in hysteric fits of laughter before checking out your lights, then you're probably impervious to episodes of Curb Your Enthusiam.

The same with the artwork - oh the PP Guru goodness! You could practically take chloric acid and load it up in a super soaker and spray it into your grandmother's eyeballs and you could come up with better artwork than what was crudely displayed in those early issues. Willingham, early on in his career didn't seem to take anatomy to task when it came to either choreographing fight scenes or itsy bitsy tender moments such as holding one another's hands. Everyone looked stiff and lanky, prancing around in awkward looking poses that would probably snap a Mego action figure in half if given a chance. But again, as time marched on, as far as a bi-monthly schedule allowed - Bill hired on extra staff to help churn out the work, mostly embellishers to make the artwork seem more presentable. The PP Guru can appreciate the evolution of seeing a title germinate when he sits down and reads the series like a syndicated strip, because he can relate as to how you can mature as a serious artist - if PP Guru memory serves correctly, his very first Deposit Man story in a one shot comic book called Malice was a real stinker - especially when the artwork had to be handed out by 14 different artists and inkers to make the distributor's deadline- it winded up having no validity in shape nor form - but way back then Schmuck Scott Goodell was in charge. And we all know what happened to Scott, right?

At the time the Elementals was hitting its' pinnacle, the company Comico was getting more professional and was taking on established properties such as Jonny Quest and Robotech- so the PP Guru surmises that their creator-owned titles in addition to Willingham's Elementals, such as Matt Wagner's Mage and Grendel and Mike Gustovich's Justice Machine had to start looking pretty. Comico was also the place of early place of gainful employment to two of my favorite working professional editor in the comics industry today: Diana Schutz (now works for Dark Horse and edits Michael Chabon's the Escapist franchise(?) ) and Bob Schreck who is now the big cheese editor of both DC's Batman and Green Lantern line of titles in addition to being one of the founders of the Oni company.

It's been chronicled that when Comico had start hitting the skids, Willingham was clever enough to pull all rights to the Elementals and put an halt to the complete series in the middle of a storyline before the bottom fell out. Willingham had intentions to finish the storylines by self-publishing it - but the PP Guru would make a logical zen guess that it turned too much to be a finanical strain on Willingham. Therefore some schmoe out in Chicago named Andrew Rev must have bought the rights to the characters and for a over a decade they have remained in limbo ever since. But Willingham was not one to rest on his laurels, he went on to create a series for Fantagraphics called Coventry, did a mini-series for DC/Vertigo called Proposition Player and is now the Eisner Award winning author behind DC's most popular title in that edgy mature line, Fables. Willingham is now currently the writer on the Day of Vengeance 6 issue mini-series that the PP Guru is enjoying and hears he is on the roster of special guests for this year's Comic Con International.

So Bill Willingham has come a long way since then and has sharpened his skills quite efficently - plus, like Bob Schreck, is also a professed Jethro Tull* fan. Jethro Tull fans are generally good people. The PP Guru has that built in flute radar instinct.

As relayed through a nostalgic vacumn to:

~ Coat

* Jethro Tull has recently remastered two of their mid-eighties albums, Broadsword & the Beast & Under Wraps - both contain bonus tracks and CD Rom content. A true inspiration to the PP Guru when he used to celebrate like Jesus in his temple rage as he chased the money-men away. You don't want to be no saboteur, right?


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