Matt: Superman and The Spirit-- the
DP: Everyone is familiar with Superman, Batman and Spider-Man. Can you provide us with a list of lesser known superheroes that you believe deserve more recognition?
Matt: I always had a soft spot for The Flash and Green Lantern as a kid. One guy ran real fast and the other made things happen with his imagination and a magic ring-- can you think of two better heroes for a hyperactive kid to have?
Really, though, I don't think superheroes need more recognition—a lot of people seem to think that's all comic books can be about, so the less exposure they get these days the better. Why not talk about characters like Tara Chase, from “Queen and Country or David Kohl in “Phonogram,” or Ruben Flagg, in one of my favorite comics of all time, “American Flagg!” or David Boring or Jimmy Corrigan or...
DP: What is the biggest misconception people have about comic books?
Matt: That it's BANG! POW! POP! Batman-style camp superheroes. There's a lot of that, and a lot of that is done excellently, but comics don't have to be any more or less limited in their scope than literature or film. I think a lot of people in comics feel like they need to apologize a lot. I hate that.
Well, “Unbreakable” was a great superhero origin movie, as was the first “Matrix,” but neither of those came from comics first. “Danger Diabolik” is tremendously great but that's not a
Bombed? Remember the “Captain
DP: Who is your favorite superhero and why? And who do you dislike and why?
Matt: Spider-Man, probably. I think he's got a great gimmick and the best supporting cast in comics.
I dislike only the unimaginative, the derivative, the muddled and exploitative. The dull and dumb and boring superheroes. Those are the ones I dislike.
“Does God exist?”
But in reality the answer is quite simple: No.
It’s a matter of probability. There is no scientific evidence – not one iota – that there exists in the universe an omnipotent, omniscient being that can read the thoughts and direct the actions of every living being.
"When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself."
- Peter O'Toole
So, according to Pascal, it’s better to believe. But Pascal may have been being facetious because can you really fake belief in God?
“Pascal’s wager could only ever be an argument for feigning belief in God,” Biologist Richard Dawkins writes in his book “The God Delusion.” “And the God you claim to believe in better not be the omniscient kind or he’d see through the deception.”
Coming to the realization that I’m an atheist was not an easy path. I’ve struggled with the idea of God and religion since I was a boy. I was raised Catholic – with all the trappings, ceremonies, and solemn mysteries of faith (as well as the not so subtle threats not to wander off the reservation or face dire consequences).
"I'm not normally a religious man, but if you're up there, save me, Superman!"I’ve flirted with church attendance throughout my adult life – going to Catholic masses and even a period where I went to a Congregationalist church. But the bouts of faith never took. Organized religion always falls back on tired religious platitudes, the contradictions and downright silliness of the Bible (not to mention the outright cruelty), and the bizarre absolutism of church canon (is it really wrong to never to have an abortion?).
- Homer Simpson
In the end, I fell back on wondering why the most powerful being in the universe would care if I ate a hamburger on Fridays during Lent.
Science vs. Faith
It also comes down to science. At one time, Christians insisted that God placed the Earth at the center of the universe and that the sun, the planets, and everything else revolved around it. Christians persecuted scientists who dared to suggest otherwise – calling it an attack on religion and God. We now know that the Earth is but a tiny satellite in the far corner of the universe – revolving around the sun. Christians had to reluctantly adjust. And despite, mounds of scientific evidence that man (and all life on earth) evolved through natural selection – fundamental Christians continue to fight the obvious.
Christians (and I don’t mean to pick on Christianity, but it’s the religion I’m most familiar with) continue to explain any gap in science with one answer: God. Until, that is, science finally fills the gap with a more logical explanation. Then they scurry back to another gap. Unfortunately for religion – the gaps are getting fewer and harder to find.
"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."
- Oscar Wilde
As human knowledge progresses (chemists are now trying to create life in the laboratory – and eventually they probably will) it begins to be clear that belief in an omnipotent, omniscient being who controls the universe like some enormous puppet master is rather archaic. Religion appears to be a leftover remnant of our primitive past when lightning and thunder were God’s wrath rather than a naturally occurring weather pattern.
Fundamental Christians argue for a “designer” theory; that the universe is too complicated to have randomly occurred. But everything is random. Take a look around you. What were the improbable odds that the coffee cup on your desk would have ended up there? A thousand years ago your own birth was an improbable equation. Think of all the events that had to line up to make it happen and how the odds improved each time the event before it occurred. Then, finally, your parents are born and all that had to happen was the long-shot of them meeting, falling in love, and reproducing (and the one sperm among the millions that was you had to win the race).
The fact that any of us are living – is an astronomical ridiculous mathematical improbability. But those long odds are true about everything in existence.
Celebration of Death
There’s also another factor. Call it the gut check. If the average religious person (and 73 percent of Americans believe in God, according to Harris Poll taken in October, 2006) truly believed in God and an afterlife, wouldn’t that belief manifest itself in the way we view death? Americans view death as sorrowful and the prospect of it scares most people.
"Angels dancing on the head of a pin dissolve into nothingness at the bedside of a dying child."But why is this? If heaven exists – wouldn’t death be cause for celebration? Wouldn’t we look forward to our deaths? Wouldn’t we envy those who died before us because they are with God and in heaven with all of our ancestors? The answer, of course, is that most people – deep down – understand the contradictions and improbability of the existence of God – especially one who reads our thoughts and intervenes in our actions sporadically and without design.
- Waiter Rant
The idea of no God, however, frightens most people. But it shouldn’t. Life is just as precious without a supreme being. You are still you. The people in your life still exist and our societies will continue to function and run and thrive. The control, however, belongs to us.StumbleUpon | Digg | del.icio.us | Reddit | Technorati | E-mail
Repo Man (1984)
Why: The album is an innovative masterpiece of what happens when you slow down hardcore punk music. The result is cheesy, fascinating, hilarious, and a more fun than watching bad TV with Black Flag.
Best Song: “Institutionalize” by Suicidal Tendencies
Worst Song: “Bad Man” by the Juicy Bananas
Biggest Surprise: Burning Sensations cover of Jonathan Richmond’s “Pablo Picasso.”
Better Than the Movie? No, but its damn close. How could any album be better than a movie that features the line “John Wayne was a fag”?
Why: The album is an eclectic blend of punk, electronic, and alternative music that beautifully captures the hip, coolness of the drug sub-culture in London. It’s one of those soundtracks that gets better every time you listen to it.
Best Song: “Trainspotting” by Primal Scream
Worst Song: “A Final Hit” by Leftfield
Biggest Surprise: “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed
Better Than the Movie? Yes. The album has staying power. The only thing you leave the movie with is the scene where
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Why: This album is responsible for making disco cool. So think about how good an album needs to be in order to do that.
Best Song: “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
Worst Song: “Night on
Biggest Surprise: “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy
Better Than the Movie? Hell, yes. Despite its blockbuster status, the movie is lame-ass and certainly hasn’t aged as well as the music.
Why: The movie and soundtrack captured the Grunge scene that blossomed in
Best Song: “Would?” by
Worst Song: “Battle of Evermore” by The Lovemongers
Biggest Surprise: “Nearly Lost You” by Screaming Trees
Better Than the Movie? A big head nod. While the movie was a fun romantic comedy – the music lives on.
8 Mile (2002)
Why: It’s a massive jam session of old and new rappers – put together by Eminem – that celebrates and re-energizes the genre.
Best Song: “Lose Yourself” by Eminen
Worst Song: “
Biggest Surprise: “R.A.K.I.M.” by Rakim
Better Than the Movie? Ah, yeah. There was a movie?
Valley Girl (1983)
Why: The “Valley Girl” soundtrack helped kick-started the whole alternative sound of the 80s.
Best Song: “Eyes of a Stranger” by Payolas
Worst Song: “School Is In” by Josie Cotton
Biggest Surprise: The three songs by the Plimsouls
Better Than the Movie? Yes, sir. The movie was a forgettable teen romance starring Nicholas Cage and Deborah Foreman (who?).
Purple Rain (1984)
Why: The album shot Prince into the stratosphere – and introduced an entire new way to make a movie – build one around an album.
Best Song: “When Doves Cry” by Prince
Worst Song: “Computer Blue” by Prince
Biggest Surprise: “I Would Die 4 U” by Prince
Better Than the Movie? An even split. It’s hard to think of them as separate.
Harder They Come (1972)
Why: Reggae music is one of the characters in this movie and it shows in the soundtrack. It also proved to people outside of
Best Song: “You can Get It If You Really Want” by Jimmy Cliff
Worst Song: “Johnny Too Bad” by The Slickers
Biggest Surprise: “
Better Than the Movie? Yes. The movie was a Robin Hood rip-off. It’s the music that shines.
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Why: The movie captured 1980s teen angst perfectly and it was the music that helped this film retain its time capsule like appeal.
Best Song: The best song isn’t on the soundtrack, but is in the movie. “Positively Lost Me” by the very underrated, should have been huge Rave-Ups.
Worst Song: A tie between “If You Leave” by OMD (the song that replaced “Positively Lost Me”) and “Get To Know Ya” by Jesse Johnson
Biggest Surprise: “Pretty in Pink” by the Psychedelic Furs
Better Than the Movie? A tie goes to the film.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Why: Perhaps the coolest soundtrack to one of the coolest movies ever filmed.
Best Song: “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty
Worst Song: “Comanche” by the Revels
Biggest Surprise: “
Better Than the Movie? No. The soundtrack rocks, but come on! It’s John Travolta and Bruce Willis at their best.
This is remarkable story of hope is one I often tell to the children in my Bible class. Noah was 600 years old when God came to him (can you imagine the things Noah got to see in his lifetime?). God told Noah that men were wicked and filled with malevolence so he decided that he was going to annihilate every living creature on earth by drowning.
“So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:7).
God commanded Noah to construct an ark large enough to fit a male and female of every species of animal. Amazingly, Noah was able to use shipbuilding techniques not in existence in the ancient world to build the largest wooden ship in history (it pays to have a personal relationship with the Lord!). Once the ark was completed, Noah and his family herded up pairs of elephants, zebras, lizards, eagles, rhinos, tigers, lions, penguins, walruses, squirrels, polar bears, kangaroos, and thousands of other species into the ark along with enough food to last hundreds of days.
Then the Lord tore opened up the heavens: “And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:12). After 220 days afloat, Noah sent out a dove and the dove returned with an olive leaf in its beak. The flood was over! And to celebrate the destruction of mankind and a new beginning, God created the rainbow and promised never to kill men with flood waters again.
David & Goliath
This is a heartwarming story and a powerful lesson for children about overcoming what appears to be overwhelming odds. It also reminds me of a good Mel Gibson action flick!
King Saul and the Israelites were poised to face the Philistines in an epic battle. The Philistine champion was Goliath (a giant warrior standing over nine feet tall!), who boasted that if any Israelite could defeat him one-on-one that the Philistines would surrender. Every morning, Goliath taunted the Israelites.
Finally, a boy named David could no longer stand it. He insisted to his brothers that he could kill Goliath. His words were heard by King Saul, who upon hearing David’s strategy for battle agreed to let him fight the mighty Goliath. On the day of the fight, young David took only a staff and six round stones to the fight.
"Come over here, and I'll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!" Goliath yelled.” (
Adam & Eve
The story of Adam and Eve is probably the most important event in world history (it’s amazing to me that most “secular” history books chose to ignore it because it really isn’t a religious event in many ways). The story is the turning point for humanity because it introduced original sin when Eve allowed herself to be seduced by Satan and in turn entrapped Adam in her conspiracy (which is why women are sometimes called “The Devil’s Gateway”).
One can only wonder at the beauty of the Garden of Eden. All of God’s creations working in perfect harmony. But God ordered Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But Satan, disguised as a serpent, tempted Eve with his wicked words and got her to eat from the tree – betraying God. She also fed the fruit to a naïve Adam and the result was that they realized they were totally naked.
When God returned to the garden – Adam and Eve hid from him, humiliated by their supple nakedness (one can only imagine how perfect they were as the first human beings created by God!). God was enraged by the violation and threw Adam and Eve out of paradise and in the process made them mortal.
The children in my Bible classes are fascinated by Adam and Eve (and often titillated by the nakedness – which proves that we still possess original sin!). But there are great lessons in this historical piece about loyalty, obeying your superiors, and the power of vengeance.(The Rev. Colson Crosslick is pastor of the Pretty Good Shepherd Church in Ripsaw, Arkansas. His favorite history book is the Bible. He also writes the regularly appearing column Under God's Right Arm for DaRK PaRTY.)
DaRK PaRTY: Were you one of those kids in high school constantly doodling on their notebooks?
Tony: I was a good student, but I was a major doodler. Visualization was important to my comprehension. Geometry was the only math class I felt comfortable in. Drawing a monkey sliding down the slope of a hyperbola somehow helped it all make sense.
DP: So you end up at
Tony: I was on the fast track to becoming an unknown artist, selling my drawing to delis and butchers, which they would use to wrap cuts of meat (apparently my art was cheaper than wax paper). In my sophomore year at ASU I saw an advertisement in the school newspaper asking for a new cartoonist. The ad said, “Can you draw? Even just a little? Apply to The State
I spent the next four semesters drawing F Minus five days a week. Once in a while I would see one cut out and taped to a wall or bulletin board on campus. I started my website www.fminus.net and built a little fan base. I was once recognized by a fan in an elevator. “That was it.” I thought. “My 15 minutes of fame. And it was only 23 seconds long.” I had been submitting my comic to contests for some time. F Minus placed second in the Associated Collegiate
I was in my final semester of my senior year and preparing for a life of hard work in the food industry, while saving my money so I could afford to frame my Fine Arts diploma. One day my editor at the State
I submitted F Minus to the MTVu contest. Soon I was notified that F Minus was a finalist. The top comics were then subjected to online voting, and separate voting by cartoonists Scott Adams (Dilbert) and David Rees (Get Your War On). Over 200,000 votes were cast, and F Minus came out the winner. Oddly enough, I think I was in a dollar store when I got that call too. I went to
Tony: I think it is easier to describe what F Minus is not. F Minus has no plot or regular characters, no political slant or pop culture references. There are no precious moments or thought-provoking issues. In fact, the less thinking, the better. That’s my motto. Really, my goal is simply to get a laugh every day. Sometimes it’s silly or absurd, sometimes unintentionally profound, but if it gets a smile, then I’m happy.
DP: You break a lot of taboos with the strip. I remember one with a handicapped man in a wheelchair flipping the bird to a "Walk" sign and another one with a father and son standing outside
Tony: First of all it’s never my goal to offend anyone. However, if I come up with an idea that I think is funny, I’ll submit it even though I know it may lend itself to misinterpretation. In fact, whenever someone is upset about one of my comics, it’s almost always because they have assigned some meaning to it that I didn’t intend. One reader, unhappy with a particular comic, accused me of being sexist against men. I’m still shaking my head over that one. The only person that wrote to me that had a right to be angry was a professional clown. I actually do hate clowns.
I try to draw my inspiration directly from life. If I hear a word or phrase that is even remotely funny, I’ll write it down in my notebook and try to turn it into an actual comic idea later on. For me, it’s important to stay out among people. There’s so much untapped comedy in your average overheard conversation.
DP: What are your three favorite comic strips and why?
One of my biggest influences is Bob Mankoff, cartoonist and editor for the New Yorker magazine. I love the simplicity of his drawings and the insanity of his ideas. He wrote a great book called “The Naked Cartoonist,” a must-have for aspiring cartoonists.
When I was a teenager I really got into
Finally, I still love Calvin and Hobbes. When I was a kid, I always associated with Hobbes the tiger. The problem is, at some point it occurred to me that Hobbes was an imaginary being. Being forced to question your own existence is really not healthy for any 12-year-old.
What’s not to savior? He’s a suave secret agent with a license to kill. A rapscallion who is tougher than a sack of nails, as relentless as an army of carpenter ants, and with the courage of a grizzly bear. He makes love to deliciously gorgeous women with names like Pussy Galore, Honey Ryder, and Holly Goodhead. He drinks his martinis “shaken, not stirred” and never seems to lose when he gambles.
And he utters dialogue like this gem from “Diamonds Are Forever.” (1971):
Girl: Hi, I'm Plenty.
James Bond: But of course you are.
Girl: Plenty O'Toole.
James Bond: Named after your father perhaps?
However, in recent years, the Bond franchise became as bloated as a whale carcass washed up on the beach (and smelling as bad as well). They were overproduced, explosion-laden "events" that began to resemble the more forgettable Roger Moore films in the mid-1980s when Moore played the role as if he were Austin Powers and not Ian Fleming's 007.
Then along came the new James Bond film “Casino Royale” (2006) starring what many thought was a bad choice as 007 – actor Daniel Craig. This stripped down, back-to-basics action movie may, in fact, be the best James Bond movie ever produced. It already ranks higher in viewer satisfaction than any other film in the franchise at Internet Movie Database.
In honor of the refreshing new life breathed into the series by "Casino Royale," DaRK PaRTY presents the 7 Best James Bond Movies (before “Casino Royale”). And, just for the heck of it, we also threw in the three biggest bombs.
Dr. No (1962)
The first and perhaps the best and where Sean Connery utters the infamous “Bond, James Bond” line for the first time. The franchise has its heart – and its origins in this excellent original. The plot is pure 007 – Bond heads to
This is the movie where Connery really settles into the character of James Bond and shows us how brutal and single-minded 007 could be. The movie pits Bond against gold-obsessed tycoon Auric Goldfinger, who launches a plan to destroy all the gold in
Live and Let Die (1973)
This is Roger Moore’s best Bond movie and the film responsible for making the release of a 007 film into a stunt-filled event (the speed boat race is excellent). It also features a bad guy named – get this – Mr. Big.
The first Bond movie to feature SPECTRE, the worldwide criminal organization. This could be Connery’s darkest portrayal as Bond. He’s violent and ruthless as shown in his fight with ex-KGB agent Rosa Klebb (and her poison-tipped shoes) and his battle with Red Grant in a speeding train.
The first Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan gave fans hope that Brosnan would revive the sagging franchise. Unfortunately, after a scary good performance in “Goldeneye,” Brosnan collapsed under the weight of heightened expectations. But this film was a great mix of Bond sophistication and over-the-top action. Bond is sent to
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Another back-to-basics Bond (amazing how those back-to-basics Bond films seem to rise to the top of the heap). Less of Roger Moore’s one-liners, fewer explosions, and more focus on Bond the character. This movie introduces the second best Bond villain – the iron-mouthed Jaws. This is the last film where Roger Moore was able to pull off 007. The plot was almost secondary with Bond discovering a plot to abduct
License to Kill (1989)
This is the most underrated film in the franchise. While Timothy Dalton never seemed comfortable in the role of 007 – he nailed it in this episode. Bond hunts down the drug lord who murdered his best friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter.
A View to a Kill (1985)
This is one of those excessive, over-blown Bond movies that forgets about character – and goes for explosions instead. And it features one of the worst acting performances by a Bond girl – Grace Jones. Hideous. Notably only in that it was
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The villain in this horrible movie is a media baron. He wants to start World War III so he can sell more newspapers in
The World is Not Enough (1999)
The film that nearly destroyed the franchise. Bloated beyond measure. Pierce Brosnan looks tired and irritated and the usually superb Robert Carlyle is left floundering in the role of arch villain Renard. Miss this one at all costs.
5 Questions About: James Bond