This is my blog about my arts, crafts, and photography along with the occasional rant. If you prefer to view a portfolio of my work, check out this blog’s sister site on NeoCities. (Link will open in a new window.) And while you’re there, try your hand at playing a video game that I originally designed. 😉

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Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Benjamin Franklin

A quarrelsome Man has no good Neighbours.

Previous in this series.

Continuing this summer’s series of Throwback Thursday posts dedicated to Howard the Duck.

Howard the Duck Magazine #6
July, 1980

This is the notorious Duckworld issue that Howard the Duck co-creator Steve Gerber reportedly loathed. That’s because he originally envisioned Howard as coming from a planet where a variety of animals talked besides ducks instead of the story that his successor, Bill Mantlo, wrote about an alternate Earth where ducks evolved to become the dominant species instead of humans.

Story 1: The Origin of Howard the Duck

Synopsis: It’s a one-page story about Howard’s early life before he arrived on Earth. It starts with his hatching. From there it mentions that early aptitude tests indicated that he was best suited to be a mortician. Howard rebelled against that idea, opting instead to drift through variety of different jobs, including minstrel, construction worker, and boxer. He was frequently let go from jobs due to his abrasive tongue so he also went through periods of unemployment. It ends with Howard landing in Cleveland after the Cosmic Axis shifted.

The Bottom Line: It’s a pretty concise version of Howard’s life story, which serves as a prelude to the next story.

Story 2: Duckworld
Credits: Bill Mantlo, script; Michael Golden and Bob McLeod, art

Synopsis: The story begins where the end of the previous issue left off—with Howard and Beverly floating through the dimensions of time and space after Winda managed to use her psionic powers to shift the Cosmic Axis.

Howard and Beverly eventually land in a vacant lot. At first Howard concludes that Winda made a mistake until a pair of young ducks show up on their bicycles and they tell the couple that they are in New Stork. At that point Howard is elated because he has finally returned to his home planet Duckworld.

Howard decides to celebrate his return home by going to the local corner store to get a cigar. As the couple walk down the street, Beverly notices that the buildings are about half the size of the ones on Earth and that she would not be able to enter many of them. Howard tried to buy a cigar only to discover that he still has U.S. dollars, which are worthless on Duckworld. The owner allows Howard to take the cigar for free when he freaks out over seeing a large hairless ape like Beverly peering through his store window.

As Howard rejoins Beverly outside, a group of ducks gather around the couple. When they recognize Howard as being someone who’s been touted in the mainstream media as a messiah, the ducks begin to bow down in worship for Howard and a few of them also ask Howard to perform miracles. The ducks soon begin to pile up on top of Howard and Beverly in an effort to love-bomb them. Howard and Beverly manage to crawl out from the bottom of the pile only to have the ducks pursue them. They finally managed to ditch the worshippers in an alley.

Howard is confused by the sudden adulation of him because he wasn’t famous at all when he left his home world five years earlier.

Duckworld is a planet that is just like Earth except ducks have evolved to become the dominant species instead of homo sapiens. There are even personalities, places, and events that parallels Earth, such as New Stork being the Duckworld equivalent of New York. (For simplicity’s sake, I’ll just list the Earth equivalent in parenthesis.)

Howard and Beverly attempt to go to the home where Howard grew up only to discover that it has been turned into a tourist attraction known as the Howard House. There is a huge crowd of Howard worshippers along with a large contingent of police and broadcast reporters. Apparently it is the five-year anniversary of the day that Howard disappeared on live television. There are a group of ducks worshippers waiting patiently outside of the house while doing things like saying the Hare Howard (Hare Krishna) chant.

New Stork Mayor Quack (Mayor Ed Koch) appears at the front of the Howard House along with the Reverend Gander, who’s the head of a religion known as the Witnesses of the Ascension Cult, or Wackies for short. Author Truman Capoultry (Truman Capote) appears with a copy of his bestselling book, Ducking Out!, which deals with Howard’s sudden disappearance. Truman Capoultry reads excerpts from his book, where we learn about Howard’s early life.

Then a movie is shown on an outdoor screen set up by the house, which shows what happened five years earlier. Howard is shown on the campus of Quent State University (Kent State University). At the same time a major protest is going on because President Richard Millnest Duxon (Richard Milhous Nixon) and Vice President Gyro Agnu (Spiro Agnew) are visiting the campus. The National Guard troops decide to open fire on the protesters, killing four of them. Howard is so outraged over what he has seen that he walks over towards the car where Duxon and Gyro are in and starts to confront them. At the moment he is about to jump on Duxon and Gyro while yelling “GET DOWN!,” the Cosmic Axis shifts and Howard suddenly disappears into thin air.

Reverend Gander takes over reminding the worshippers that Howard’s sudden disappearance after yelling “GET DOWN!” was the miracle that abruptly ended Duxon’s rule. He also interprets Howard’s “GET DOWN!” quote as meaning when things get really bad, you just learn to accept them without doing anything to change your current situation.

From his hiding place Howard becomes outraged over how his words are being interpreted. He tells Beverly that when he yelled “GET DOWN!”, he meant for his fellow fowl to get down and fight back against President Duxon. Unfortunately the Cosmic Axis shifted before Howard had the chance to yell “FIGHT BACK!”

Reverend Gander talks about how Howard’s disappearance had led to the fall of Duxon and a power vacuum. He said that Howard wanted the Wackies cult that had come up in the wake of Howard’s disappearance to “get down” to the business of running the world by not only solving their own problems but everyone else’s problems as well.

When Reverend Gander talks about how his Wackies cult is the voice of Howard, Howard emerges from his hiding place and makes his way towards the front of the house. He is immediately overwhelmed by worshippers who are elated that their messiah has returned.

When Howard is allowed to speak for himself, he immediately tells his worshippers to start thinking for themselves, which Reverend Gander and his aides see as an immediate threat to the viability of their Wackie cult due to the fact that they have made well-paying careers out of capitalizing on Howard’s disappearance. Mayor Quack and Truman Capoultry introduce themselves to Howard and Beverly while Reverend Gander and company leave the Howard House. The duck worshippers are shocked when they learn that Beverly is Howard’s lover because she is what the ducks call a hairless ape. Truman Capoultry offers to let Howard and Beverly stay with him.

Two days later Truman, Howard, and Beverly appear on a talk show hosted by Johnny Quackson (Johnny Carson) and his sidekick Mr. McDuck (Ed McMahon). Johnny introduces a few surprise guests—Howard’s parents and two siblings. As the family reunion happens and Howard introduces Beverly to his relatives, Reverend Gander is watching the whole thing unfold on TV while fuming about how the presence of Howard and Beverly are warping Duckworld values.

Another guest appears on the show named Dr. Ludwig Von Cluck (Professor Ludwig Von Drake), who contends that Beverly is not really a talking hairless ape but she is actually a robot. In order to prove his point, Dr. Von Cluck uses this vacuum device that rips Beverly’s clothes off in an effort to show that she’s made of nuts and bolts. Except when Beverly ends up naked, everyone is convinced that she is not a robot. It causes such a commotion in the studio audience that Howard, Beverly, and Truman barely escape from the TV studio.

The three of them wind up in an alley where Howard and Beverly realize that they have no future on Duckworld due to their sudden notoriety. Truman Capoultry recognizes someone who is also in the alley who can help shift the Cosmic Axis so Howard and Beverly can return to Earth. He is Ducktor Strange (Doctor Strange) and he’s known as the Mallard of the Mystic Arts. He is also a wino and the three of them have found him in a drunken stupor.

At that moment Reverend Gander and his crew arrive at the alley accompanied by the Wackies’ wealthy benefactor, Uncle Scrounge MacDrake (Uncle Scrooge McDuck). Reverend Gander’s crew raise their guns and attempt to kill Howard and Beverly in order to save the Wackie cult, which has provided a lucrative career for Reverend Gander and others in the church hierarchy. When a bullet hits Ducktor Strange’s bottle of booze, he becomes so outraged over his loss that he shifts the Cosmic Axis in order to send Howard and Beverly back to Earth. Reverend Gander and the Wackies so are happy over Howard and Beverly’s disappearance that they proclaim it as a second miracle while being satisfied over their cult being preserved. However, Truman Capoultry leaves the area intending to write another book exposing the real story behind Reverend Gander and the Wackies cult.

The story ends with Howard and Beverly arriving back on Earth and landing in the Florida Everglades while the Man-Thing is hiding in the background.

Topical References: One of the cops guarding the Howard House can be heard talking into his walkie-talkie blurting the lyrics from David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” song.

The Bottom Line: I found the story to be a totally spot-on parody of the right-wing evangelical Christians. At the time this was written, they were beginning to become dominant in U.S. politics due mainly to organizations like Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and they sided with Ronald Reagan in the 1980 elections. They have remained a dominant force through the decades and, as of this writing, many of them (like Franklin Graham) have proclaimed Donald Trump as a Christian that’s suitable for the evangelical community (which is controversial given the fact that Trump has five children from three different marriages, he’s been recorded bragging about committing sexual assault, and there are allegations that he has not paid his employees and contractors).

And speaking of Donald Trump, it’s pretty ironic that this review of the issue that skewers right wing evangelical Christians went live the same week that Trump proclaimed himself as “The Chosen One” and “The King of Israel” and he even attacked Jews who vote for Democrats.

In addition, many of these evangelicals have become millionaires through writing books and hosting evangelical programs where their viewers give them generous donations. It’s not unusual to hear about a certain televangelist having his own private jet or a large mansion. It definitely mirrors how wealthy Reverend Gander and the other leaders of the Wackies became as a result of capitalizing on Howard’s disappearance.

I’ve often felt that if Jesus ever returned to Earth in the way that Howard returned to Duckworld, the evangelicals would have the same reaction against him that the leadership of the Wackies had against Howard.

I also found it amusing that two of the ducks who caused trouble for Howard were modeled after two Disney characters—Uncle Scrooge McDuck and Professor Ludwig Von Drake. It was almost like they were there as a way of making fun of Disney as a revenge for the company forcing the redesign of Howard the Duck because Disney felt that he resembled Donald Duck too much. Even the cover had a white duck with his back turned wearing a sailor suit a la Donald.

In a way this story is just as sharp a parody as the classic Howard the Duck color comic book #8. However, there are a few glaring flaws that, in my mind, prevents this from being completely in the same league as Howard the Duck #8. First, throughout this story Beverly is constantly half-naked as she’s struggling to cover her private parts with what’s left of her clothes. I can understand her clothes being ripped off when Dr. Ludwig Von Cluck vacuumed her clothes off in an effort to prove that she’s really a robot. But the story began with her clothes being nearly torn off as Howard and Beverly first encounter worshippers who were piling on them in an effort to love-bomb them. No sooner did she get fully dressed for her TV show appearance then she’s stripped half-naked again.

I just found the constant depictions of Beverly being nearly naked to be tiring after a while. I know that the black and white magazine allowed the writers and artists to be more daring than what was allowed in the color comic books when Marvel had to abide by the Comics Code Authority. But just because you have the freedom to do something doesn’t mean that you should. It was almost like Marvel was trying to increase circulation for the magazine by depicting a near-naked woman in order to attract horny adolescent boys and men. Even in the pre-Internet era (when this magazine was originally released) anyone wanting to see naked women could just pick up Playboy or Penthouse and see actual color photographs of naked women instead of mere drawings in an illustrated black and white magazine.

The other glaring flaw that, in my mind, was even more serious than having Beverly half-naked, is doing a satire of the real-life 1970 shootings at Kent State University as Quent State University. Not only did the Quent State Shooting have the National Guard killing four students just like at Kent State in real-life but they even depicted a Duckworld equivalent of the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a teenage runaway girl kneeling over the body of one of the slain students with her arms outstretched while screaming and crying.

To me that crossed the borderline into sheer tastelessness, especially since people died in real life. They could have done a fictional protest at a fictional location and even indicated that some ducks were killed without having to resort to doing a close tie-in with the Kent State shootings.

If I had known someone who had been injured or killed at Kent State University, I’m not sure how I would have reacted had I come across this issue and read about Quent State University. All I know is that it could be triggering to anyone who was there at the time.

Despite those flaws, I found the Duckworld story to be a witty satire that mostly ranks up there with the best of the Howard stories.

Story 3: Street Peeple
Credits: Lynn Graeme, writing; Ned Sonntag, art

Starting with this issue, Marvel introduced a new back-up feature which ran for the rest of the black and white magazine’s original run. As the introduction explains, Street Peeple is a departure from the usual stories that are run on the pages of Marvel Comics in that there are no superheroes or talking animals or robots or anything out of the ordinary. It’s basically a story about average people trying to live their own lives in San Francisco, California in the late 1960s.

Synopsis: Three young women live in late 1960’s San Francisco while trying to make a living as street performers. Cheyanne is a tall thin white woman with long blonde hair who epitomizes a flower child along the lines of someone like Michelle Phillips from the Mamas and the Papas. Moonchild is an overweight white woman who epitomizes an Earth Mother type along the lines of Phillips’ fellow Mama and Papas bandmate, Cass Elliott. Qwami is a short African-American woman who epitomizes the angry black feminist revolutionary along the lines of Angela Davis who’s eager to do her part to shut down the racist capitalist system that has long discriminated against her people. The three of them share an apartment together with a pet cat named Horsemeat.

One day the three of them are out on the streets performing their juggling act with a variety of items, including Horsemeat the cat. Among the viewers is Riff, the epitome of a white male hippie complete with long hair, a beard, and mustache. Riff takes one look at Cheyanne and it’s literally love at first sight. Riff is so smitten with Cheyanne that he gives her everything that he has in his pockets when she passes the hat around. Cheyanne takes the hat and turns her back on Riff once he finishes emptying his pockets without saying anything, which bums him out.

While Horsemeat is being juggled in the air, a man on a motorcycle drives up to the jugglers, catches Horsemeat, and drives away. When Cheyanne yells at the motorcyclist to let go of the cat, Riff decides to go after the motorcyclist to rescue Horsemeat in the hopes of winning Cheyanne’s heart.

Just at the moment when Riff is about to jump on the motorcyclist, a cop hits Riff on the head and knocks him to the ground. Horsemeat jumps off of the motorcycle and right on to Riff.

At that point the three women look at a barely conscious Riff with Horsemeat on top of him while the three of them debate whether to take Riff home with them or not. Moonchild is in favor of taking him back to their apartment because he did rescue Horsemeat from the motorcyclist while Qwami is strongly opposed to that idea and Cheyanne thinks that Riff is a total bore.

When Qwami tries to pick up Horsemeat, she finds that the cat has digged his claws into Riff’s torso and refuses to let go. At this point, the three women decide to carry Riff to their apartment with them since it was the only way that Horsemeat can return home. As they carry Riff home, Moonchild becomes attracted to Riff.

When they return to the apartment, Riff is lying on the couch where he is claiming to have amnesia. Moonchild wants to do everything possible to nurse Riff back to health, especially since she’s attracted to him. Cheyanne says that Riff should go once he regains his memories. Qwami is the most hostile to the idea of Riff even staying in their apartment.

The story ends with Qwami sitting on a box that’s covered with a blanket while saying that the revolution will still happen despite Riff sleeping on the couch in their apartment. A close up of the blanket and box reveals dynamite, which makes this story end in a cliff-hanger.

The Bottom Line: I have to admit that Street Peeple is not only a departure from Howard the Duck but it’s a departure from nearly every other Marvel comic. The drawing style is more reminiscent of the underground comix of the late 1960’s (such as Robert Crumb) than of a typical Marvel comic. While I think it’s great that Marvel attempted to do something a bit different from the usual superhero fare, I found the story to be completely underwhelming with one-dimensional characters that are little more than stereotypes.

It’s obvious that the debut story is setting up for the classic love triangle of a man who has a crush on a woman who doesn’t pay much attention to him while her friend has a crush on the man but he doesn’t notice because he’s too smitten with that other woman. It’s the kind of story I’ve seen many times before in movies, TV shows, novels, etc. and these kind of storylines end up being cliched and trite.

While the Duckworld story had me laughing at times, I couldn’t say the same for Street Peeple. I just didn’t find it funny at all.

This issue was reprinted in Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 3, which can be purchased online at AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepository, eBay, IndieBound, Indigo, and Powell’s.

Next post in this series.

The Howard the Duck Series

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 1

The Early Stories
Howard the Duck #1-3
Howard the Duck #4-5
Howard the Duck #6
Howard the Duck #7 and Marvel Treasury Edition #12: Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck #8

Howard the Duck #9-11
Howard the Duck #12-14
Howard the Duck King Size Annual #1 and Howard the Duck #15
Howard the Duck #16

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 2

Howard the Duck #17-19
Howard the Duck #20-22
Howard the Duck #23-25
Howard the Duck #26-28
Howard the Duck #29-31
Howard the Duck Magazine #1

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 3

Howard the Duck Magazine #2
Howard the Duck Magazine #3
Howard the Duck Magazine #4
Howard the Duck Magazine #5
Howard the Duck Magazine #6
Howard the Duck Magazine #7

Last month there were a series of candlelight vigils happening all across the United States. Known as Lights for Liberty, the main demand of these vigils are the closing of the detention centers that have sprung up to detain recent immigrants (especially ones from Mexico and Central America).

One of the largest protests happened in Washington, DC. Since I was called back to my day job recently after being laid off for a while, I didn’t get off from work until after 6 p.m., when the DC protests started. I found out that someone had organized a Lights for Liberty protest in Greenbelt, Maryland so I went to that instead since it was held closer to where I live.

It drew a small crowd (I suspect that many locals opted to go to the larger DC one instead) but it was pretty lively. Here’s a short video I shot at the vigil.

Here are a few still pictures I also shot at that event.

Lights for Liberty, July 12, 2019

Lights for Liberty, July 12, 2019

Lights for Liberty, July 12, 2019

Lights for Liberty, July 12, 2019

Lights for Liberty, July 12, 2019

Lights for Liberty, July 12, 2019

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A couple of days after the Fourth of July holiday I headed over to a tye-dye workshop that was held at The Space, a makerspace located inside of Beltway Plaza in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Everyone poured dye over t-shirts that were bound in rubber bands.

Tye-Dye Workshop

Tye-Dye Workshop

Tye-Dye Workshop

Tye-Dye Workshop

Once the dyeing process was finished, the shirts were put inside of plastic bags where they would be kept for 24 hours.

Tye-Dye Workshop

While I was there I took this shot of these newly created toy figurines that someone made. That person was obviously inspired by Forky and Knifey from Toy Story 4.

Crafts Inspired by Toy Story 4

The following day I unwrapped my t-shirt and washed it in the washing machine. I also made my own addition. I found this really cool glitter t-shirt transfer featuring butterflies that I found at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts. I thought it would be cool to add that to my t-shirt. Here is what the front of the t-shirt now looks like after being dyed then having the transfer ironed on.

Here’s a close-up of the transfer as set against the the-dyed background.

Here’s the back of the t-shirt.

And here’s me modeling that shirt. I really loved the results.

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I took part in the first-ever online collaboration with the popular YouTube channel Dollightful, which was embarking on its first-ever Internet wide collaboration of customized dolls and toys. The theme of this collaboration was tropical. The rules were pretty simple: 1) Customize only one doll or toy. 2) The customized doll/toy must be somehow tied in with the tropical theme. 3) Submit only one photo of the customized doll/toy by the deadline. 4) Do not submit a photo that has been pilfered from somewhere else online. 5) The doll/toy must be completely family-friendly with no sexual themes or complete gore.

I submitted a photo of a customized doll just a few hours before the deadline. I later learned that my submission was one of 4,000 entries. As a result, Dollightful had to resort to a format where four pictures were shown on the screen at a time, which was the only way that the video could run at a reasonable length. (The resulting video still runs nearly an hour long.) The first time I watched the video I closely looked at all the entries until I saw my doll among the numerous other customized dolls. Here are a couple of screenshots showing the exact moment when my own doll appeared on the upper right hand corner at the 41:36 mark.

Here is the video. My own entry can be found at the 41:36 mark located on the upper right hand corner of the screen. There were so many creative endeavors that were incredibly awesome in that video that you’ll probably want to watch the video in its entirety.

The rest of this blog post is devoted to the making of my own entry in this collaboration. I did a video version about how I created this doll. I was inspired to make this video after seeing Dollightful create a video about the making of that channel’s submission to the Tropical Doll Collaboration 2019. Here is my video about my own submission.

For those who can’t watch the video for whatever reason, I wrote a text version with pictures below that goes into more details about the making of this doll than the video (mainly because I didn’t want to do a video that lasts an hour or longer).

I recently have been getting more and more into getting in touch with my creative side. I’ll admit that since 2011 (when I had two falls that knocked my hip replacement out of alignment and I needed surgery to fix it and that drama was followed by my husband abruptly walking out on me just three months after my surgery and three days after Christmas) my creative output has pretty much slowed down. There was a time when I made jewelry using polymer clay and Shrinky Dinks, took Barbie dolls that I found in thrift stores and gave them makeovers into fairy dolls, and I even did the occasional painting. I even had some success (such as my work being sold and receiving awards and other accolades at local art shows). But the stress from my health problems followed by my divorce and dealing with chronic periods of veering between unemployment and underemployment really had a negative impact on my creative output big time. It’s so hard being creative when you’re worrying about whether you have enough money to pay your bills.

But then I started a new job and I’ve gone through periods of being temporarily laid off only to get re-hired once there was more work. This summer has gotten really crazy for me for reasons that I can’t get go into too much detail mainly because it will make this post extremely long. There were times when I’ve gotten stressed out. The only two things that have kept me going through this crazy summer is 1) I really liked the overall goal of the work that I was doing even if the work itself can get a bit tedious at times (this company deals with making electronic documents accessible to people with various types of disabilities like blindness, dyslexia, not having the use of one’s hands or arms due to things like illness or injuries, etc.) and I felt that the work I was doing was meaningful that could provide a positive impact on someone else’s life and 2) I still have horrible recent memories when I didn’t have enough money in my bank account and I had to make horrible decisions on which bills I could pay immediately and which bills I would try to delay paying.

I simply needed an outlet or interest other than what I was doing at my current day job. I decided to try making something again. The hard part was deciding on what I would make because I have so many different interests ranging from knitting/crochet to embroidery to drawing to painting to jewelry making to customizing dolls to sewing, etc.

I subscribe to a YouTube channel called Dollightful, which is devoted to customizing dolls (especially the ones from Mattel’s recently-discontinued Monster High line). One day I saw this video announcing a first-ever Internet-wide collaboration where people were invited to try their hand at doll customization, send a photo of the doll, and Dollightful will include it in her upcoming video. I thought it would be the perfect fun/creative thing to work on. I’ve done faceups of my own Asian ball-jointed dolls in the past and, like I wrote earlier in this post, I’ve purchased used Barbie dolls from a local thrift stores and gave them makeovers as fairy dolls.

After thinking through a few ideas, I thought about doing a mermaid with a pink flamingo motif that would somehow be reflected in her tail. Of course how she would look would definitely depend on what I would find in the local stores. I originally didn’t think about things like skin tone or hair color or anything beyond having a mermaid tail that would somehow incorporate pink flamingos. Both mermaids and pink flamingos definitely reflect on the tropical theme of this collaboration. I also thought that incorporating flamingos would turn my project into some fun light-hearted kitsch. It’s the time of the year where one can easily find in stores not only the classic pink flamingo lawn ornaments that have been around since the end of World War II but also pink flamingo drinking glasses, pink flamingo plates, strings of pink flamingo outdoor lights, pink flamingo t-shirts, pink flamingo hats, pink flamingo bags, pink flamingo pool floats, etc.

I didn’t think about what doll I wanted to use other than a Barbie or similar fashion doll that would be priced relatively cheap (meaning $10 or less). I originally had no preference of skin tone. Around the same time that I decided to take part in this collaboration there was this idiotic controversy when the Internet went in an uproar after Disney announced that, for the role of Ariel in its live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, it was going to cast an African American singer in a role where the original animation had depicted Ariel as a caucasian red-headed woman with a green fish tail. I shook my head as I read my fellow white people typing messages like “ARIEL IS WHITE AND SHE SHOULD ONLY BE PLAYED BY WHITES!!!” and “BLACK PEOPLE CAN’T BE MERMAIDS BECAUSE BLACK MERMAIDS DON’T EXIST!!!” and “OMFG!!! CASTING A BLACK PERSON AS ARIEL WOULD BE LIKE CASTING A WHITE PERSON AS OPRAH WINFREY IN A MOVIE ABOUT HER LIFE!!!”

So I went from not caring about the skin color of this pink flamingo mermaid to being adamant that she would have brown skin mainly to make an “in your face” statement to all those idiots who are adamant that there never can be black mermaids.

When I went to the same thrift stores I’ve gone to in the past in pursuit of a used African American Barbie doll I could use as my canvas, I came up empty-handed. There were no individual brown-skinned dolls available for sale. The few brown-skinned dolls I found were only available bundled together either with other dolls or other small toys and these bundles cost a little bit more than the individual dolls. I didn’t want to buy stuff that I didn’t want just so I could get a brown-skinned doll.

So I went with Plan B. I went to this local store called Dollar City, which is named because it originally started out as a dollar store where everything cost 99 cents or less. Over time it began to sell certain inventory that it really couldn’t sell for $1 and still remain in business (such as kitchen utensils) so the name has stuck despite the fact that there are now plenty of items that cost $2 or $3 (yet I’ve never seen anything in that store priced at more than $5).

I looked through the store at the cheap children’s toy area until I found this generic fashion doll sold under the name “Sweet Girl” where she is the same size as Barbie and her face resembles Barbie’s but this doll only cost $2.99. She has brown skin with blue eyes. (I guess one can explain that by saying that this doll is wearing blue contacts. LOL!) She wore a yellow dress that looked so appealing that I considered keeping it to use on other Barbies and/or other 1/6 scale dolls in future projects.

I started work on the doll soon after I removed her from the box. I did some of the work at home and I did some of the work at The Space, a makerspace that’s located inside of Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was pretty nice working on this doll in the presence of other makers but there were times when I wanted to be alone to work on this doll with an absolute minimum of distractions, especially when I was doing the painstaking work of gluing hair on her head (which I’ll get to later in this post).

When I removed the doll from the box I found that the yellow dress felt like it was made from tissue paper. What’s more, this dress wasn’t easily removable. There were no snaps or buttons or even velcro. It was like the dress was sewn permanently on the doll at the factory. Since the dress was made so cheaply there was no way I could even think of a way of removing the dress without destroying it. The dress was pretty in design and had the manufacturer used a more sturdy material other than tissue paper and added velcro so the dress could be removable, it could’ve been a nice dress for all Barbie doll-sized fashion dolls. But that cheaply made dress was probably one of the reasons why this doll only costs $2.99.

So I took a pair of scissors, removed the dress, and threw it in the trash. (It was made from tissue paper so it definitely wasn’t durable.) Once I stripped her naked I found that there was this black stamp on one of her front thighs that clearly marked the doll’s item number, manufacturing batch, the fact that this doll was manufactured in Shantou, China in October, 2016 and distributed by AAI of Piscataway, New Jersey. I’ve never seen Barbie with such noticeable blatant markings on her body like that. (Barbie is usually marked that she was made in Indonesia or China or some other place but it is usually marked in tiny raised letters on her low backside in flesh color so it’s not blatantly noticeable.) I suppose that’s another reason why this doll only costs $2.99. (LOL!)

I also felt this doll and her vinyl felt more squishy and less sturdy than Barbie’s, which is probably another reason why this doll was sold so cheaply. I have a feeling that if anyone had accidentally stepped or sat on her, she probably would be permanently flattened. (I would also hate to see what a doll like this would look like after spending time saying on the bottom of a very full toy box.)

The doll originally came with her hair in an updo ponytail. I originally thought about taking down her hair and either do a full dye or a partial dye in pink using acrylic paint.

But when I took down her hair I found that she originally wore her hair in that style—her entire head wasn’t covered with hair! She had so little hair that her bald spot was large and noticeable.

I might have kept her original hair as it and just paint the ponytail part in pink if it weren’t for the fact that I felt that her updo hairstyle was pretty mediocre due to the fact that she had so little hair. Even her hair length was a bit too short to do a decent 1950’s style updo like the original Barbie dolls in their first year of production back in 1959.

So I decided to try something alternative and cut off what little doll hair she actually had. It wasn’t too hard to cut off, much of the hair fell out at the root the minute I cut it. (Which indicates another reason why this doll only costs $2.99.) After I managed to cut off what little hair she had, I noticed that this newly bald doll reminded me of one of those female Wakanda warriors from The Black Panther movie.

I briefly thought about keeping her bald, which would’ve been a radical design idea when it comes to mermaids. (A mermaid is usually depicted as having very long and flowing hair.) But then I saw the back of her head and realized that it wouldn’t be feasible. The back of the head looked like the tip of a man’s penis.

That wasn’t the only strangely phallic part of that doll. There were times when I removed her head so I could completely remove the hair from the inside using tweezers. When I removed her head I found that, well, there was something phallic about her head joint that gave new meaning to the word “dickhead.” I guess that’s another reason why that doll only costs $2.99. LOL!

I shopped around at the various arts and craft stores until I found this pretty cool pink flamingo fabric at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts. The pattern design reminded me of those 1950s era kitsch art that were done in a variety of bright tropical pastel colors. What’s even better is that the pattern is small enough that it could be scaled to a 1/6 scale doll. (I saw other pink flamingo patterns on sale at Jo-Ann’s but the patterns were way too big for the size of doll that I was sewing for.) What was even better was that I purchased this fabric at a discount using a coupon on my Jo-Ann’s smartphone app.

I did a web search on how to make a mermaid tail for a doll and I found this YouTube tutorial by My Froggy Stuff, which I found to be very helpful.

Here is my doll’s mermaid tail after I finished it.

I also purchased some satin pink fabric from the remnant bins at Jo-Ann’s, which were on sale at the time. I sewed the top using the same My Froggy Stuff video tutorial that I embedded above.

For the hair I decided to have a hair color scheme that would match the colors of her tail. I ended up buying yarn skeins that were on sale from both Jo-Ann’s and Michaels Arts & Crafts and they were pretty close to the tail colors. I used this tutorial that was posted on Hannah Plus Laura’s YouTube channel on how to make a doll wig using yarn.

The only modifications I made were: 1) I glued the yarn directly on the doll’s head instead of using a baby sock because I intended her hair to be permanent and 2) I used E-6000 glue instead of a hot glue gun. That’s because the quality of the vinyl felt so thin compared to other dolls manufactured and distributed by Mattel and Hasbro that I feared burning a hole in the doll’s vinyl had I used a hot glue gun. Here is what my doll looked like after I glued the first row of yarn hair on her head.

Here is what the doll looked like after I covered her head in yarn hair.

I found two pink flamingo-shaped buttons at Jo-Ann’s that I decided to use as doll barrettes. I attached them to the doll’s hair using pipe cleaners.

I was really happy with how my kitschy pink flamingo mermaid of color was turning out. I decided to add a pink flamingo buddy to create sort of a picture of a pink flamingo mermaid with her pink flamingo bird companion. I decided on Ty, the company that originated the Beanie Babies craze in the 1990s. While Beanie Babies no longer command the huge dollars on the secondary market they once did, Ty is still making small stuffed animals that are still priced low enough that children can buy them with their allowance money (which was the original idea behind Beanie Babies in the first place). For the past few months I saw many of the local stores (including Five Below, Michaels, and Jo-Ann’s) sell Ty pink flamingos and I thought one of them would be perfect for my mermaid, especially since the scale would be pretty close.

By the time I started looking for a Ty pink flamingo I saw that the regular pink flamingos that I previously saw on sale were replaced by a new Ty pink flamingo under its Flippables line. These Flippables are capitalizing on the current glitter sequin craze where a glitter sequin lying on one side would be one color but if you flip the glitter sequin, you’d see a different color. I’ve seen such glitter sequins on pillows, t-shirts, and even tennis shoes. Personally the novelty of this new craze had worn thin with me after flipping glitter for a few seconds but the kids absolutely love this.

Anyway, getting back to my story, I only saw the pink flamingos available in Ty Flippables when I personally preferred the regular plush version because I just didn’t want to deal with making sure that the sequins all reflect the pink side. But the Dollightful deadline was coming soon so I decided to just take the plunge and buy the Ty Flippables version of the pink flamingo so I would have a companion for my mermaid.

This pink flamingo looked cute. Here’s a closeup of the sequins. When you flip them one way, the glitter sequins are pink but when you flip them another way, they look like a silver color.

A few days after I purchased that Ty Flippable pink flamingo I went back to Jo-Ann’s in order to make a couple of purchases so I could finish my mermaid project and I walked past the Ty display where I saw that there was one left of that pink flamingo that I originally wanted. This pink flamingo is part of the Ty Beanie Boos line (which tend to have bigger eyes than the original Beanie Babies). I began to think that it wouldn’t be so bad for my mermaid to have TWO flamingo companions so I purchased this one as well.

When I put the two Ty pink flamingos side by side, I noticed that the Flippables one is slightly bigger than the Beanie Boos one. But the height difference was minor enough not to cause any kind of scale issues when it came time to posing them with the mermaid.

I had a few other ideas regarding my submission that I ended up not using due mainly to the looming deadline, such as having a small cutout printed on card stock showing the late actor Divine in John Waters’ cult classic Pink Flamingos. (Get it?) I wanted to shoot on location at a beach near a shoreline since mermaids, water, and beaches go together. Going to Ocean City was out of the question for me due mainly to tight finances and time issues. (I was working at the day job again so I just didn’t have a full free day where I could wake up early, take a four-hour trip to Ocean City, take the necessary pictures, then take another four-hour drive back home.) I originally planned on going to some of the closer beaches that face the Chesapeake Bay like Sandy Point State Park, North Beach, or Chesapeake Beach. Those beaches would’ve been easier for me to get to.

But then something happened in the news that made me consider another option. While I was putting the final touches on my doll, I learned that President Donald Trump had issued a serious of odious tweet that totally trashed my birthplace of Baltimore. This kind of trash talking was more suitable for a middle school kid than for someone who is supposed to represent an entire nation. I already wrote a rant about how I felt about this so I’m not going to go further into that incident.

Just as I made a black mermaid in an effort to outrage all those white folks screaming “BLACK PEOPLE CAN’T BE MERMAIDS!!!” I decided that my photo shoot would take place in Baltimore in order to outrage Donald Trump and all of his devoted MAGA followers. After all, the city is located along a major body of water. And filmmaker John Waters did film his cult classic Pink Flamingos on location in Baltimore. The only challenge is finding something that’s a beach since one can only swim in a local community pool and not in the Inner Harbor or the Patapsco River. In the meantime I added a few additional elements that made my upcoming submission more Baltimore-focused.

One evening I was at Michaels when I saw that there was a sale on these small pink flamingo-shaped birthday candles for only $1 each. I thought they would be perfect for my project. Except the majority of the pink flamingo candles on sale all had snapped necks. I found the last pink flamingo candle that was still intact and I bought it. The following evening I was at Jo-Ann’s when I saw a small bunch of six small gift bags that were on the clearance rack for $1. These gift bags were perfectly scaled for a fashion doll. I was going to have the pink flamingo candle stick out of the gift bag. But then the hashtag #WeAreBaltimore began to go viral on Twitter in response to Trump’s hateful anti-Baltimore tweets so I took a Sharpie, wrote that hashtag on the bag and I now have another item for my photoshoot that also dovetails with current events.

Then there was the issue of a place in Baltimore that could possibly pass as a beach. I soon learned that there is a place located near Fells Point known as The Sandlot that is only opened during the summer months that is not only an outdoor bar and restaurant but it has a huge sandy area where one can play games like volleyball and bocce ball, swings where people of all ages can swing on, and places where one can sit facing the Patapsco River wind its way to the Inner Harbor. I found that perfect spot for my photo shoot.

The challenge I had through out the entire creation process from the beginning to the photoshoot was that I had a day job so I had to limit everything to either early in the morning before work, after work, and the weekends. I was glad that the days are currently longer this time of the year so I could get more of the photography done.

A few days before my trip to Baltimore I decided to do a few test shoots closer to my home. I wanted to practice for my desired shoot and I also wanted a backup in case, for some reason (such as car trouble or serious inclement weather), I had to cancel going to Baltimore (especially with the deadline coming close).

So I initially went to Greenbelt Lake. While I initially liked the setup of my elements, what I didn’t like was that I couldn’t get close enough to the lake without risking falling in (or having my doll fall in) because of the way that the shores slope down severely. In many areas the trees and other foliage tend to get in the way of getting a shot that could encompass both the water, the dolls, and the other props. Even though I settled for putting everything on a rock, you can barely see the water in the background.

I thought about the New Carrollton Library in New Carrollton, Maryland. Last year that library underwent extensive renovations and it reopened to the public with high praise recorded in the local media. The architect decided to do an aquatic themed design and it’s reflected all over the library. I thought it would be cool to do a shoot there even if everything would be indoors instead of being on location at a beach. Here are a few photos of my doll and props near this wall that had a giant picture of a fish nearby taken from various angles.

The blue carpeting had this pattern that suggested ocean waves so I shot my mermaid and her friends at an angle that showed the carpet.

The last local shoot I did before I went to Baltimore was at Lake Artemesia in College Park. I went after work when it was around twilight. I managed to shoot this photo with the lake clearly in the background.

I have to admit that had I not been able to go to Baltimore, I would’ve submitted this picture instead because I liked the way that everything was composed. (Here’s one secret: I placed the items on top of the lid of a tall closed trashcan. You have to admit that you would not have noticed this had I not written this previous sentence. LOL!)

The deadline was fast approaching and it got to the point where if I didn’t go to Baltimore soon, I would’ve had to choose one of my alternate photographs to submit. It also was the same weekend as the annual BronyCon. I had gone to that event in 2013, 2014, and 2015 but I hadn’t gone since due to tight finances. I thought about waiting another year before I checked it out again until I learned that the organizers decided that this year would be the last time that BronyCon would ever be held anywhere. Basically it was going to go defunct after the 2019 convention.

So I was in a dilemma about whether I should continue with my plans to do the shoot in Baltimore or go to BronyCon until I came up with an idea: I would do both. I would wake up and leave early enough in the morning so I could check out BronyCon then take the Charm City Circulator bus to The Sandlot and take my photos for the Dollightful collaboration. I also had an idea that if I saw any displays at BronyCon that looked the slightest bit tropical, I would whip out my doll and her props and do some shooting at BronyCon.

It turned out that I didn’t find anything that looked like a good tropical backdrop at BronyCon. (I’ll write more about BronyCon at a later date.) So once I got my fill at that convention, I took the Charm City Circulator until I was close enough to The Sandlot.

As I was walking towards the area where The Sandlot was located, I found an empty dock that I thought would make a great alternative shot. I pulled out my doll and her props only to discover, to my horror, my cheap $1 pink flamingo candle had snapped its neck. So I ended up having to jettison that candle entirely and go with everything else. Here is my first shot on location in Baltimore.

I eventually made it to The Sandlot. I originally intended to eat dinner there then shoot my pictures at the surrounding beach. But then I found that this place does not accept cash at all and I left my debit card in my purse, which was locked in the trunk of the car that I parked at the North Linthicum light rail station outside of the city. So I had to scrap the idea of eating dinner there (I later ended up ordering takeout chicken from Royal Farms when I was on my way home from Baltimore) and just start shooting my pictures. Here are some alternate shots I made at The Sandlot that I took from different areas of the beach and at different angles.

I liked this closeup shot of the mermaid and her flamingo friends with the Domino Sugar factory clearly in the background. (That factory is part of the iconic landscape of the Baltimore Inner Harbor along with the Bromo Seltzer Tower and the National Aquarium.) The only major flaw was that you couldn’t see her mermaid tale so you wouldn’t know that she was a mermaid from this angle.

I shot the camera just a few inches away and I felt like I got the perfect shot with a body of water that’s clearly visible, the Domino Sugar factor is clearly in the background, the mermaid is along a sandy beach, and the bag with the #WeAreBaltimore is clearly visible. I was sad that my flamingo candle snapped at the neck at the last minute so I couldn’t use it but otherwise I loved this shot. I decided to sleep on it before I made my final decision. In the morning I looked at all of the photos I shot and I still chose that one. The only real flaw is that the picture had sort of a bluish tint to it and I wanted something warmer that would better reflect the tropical theme of the collaboration.

A few months ago my friend/housemate/sometime collaborator Phil Shapiro urged me to download this free app on my smartphone called Snapseed. It was developed by Google as a way for people to easily edit their photos using Adobe Photoshop-like filters except this app is much easier to learn and, unlike Photoshop, one doesn’t have to pay a monthly subscription fee. I downloaded it but I hadn’t had a chance to use it until this collaboration. I found that it was pretty easy to use. What I really liked was that I could make some edits right on my smartphone without downloading this photo to my MacBook then importing it into either my outdated Photoshop CS4 or GIMP. I managed to add some warm highlights to this picture and add my Instagram and Twitter accounts on the photo before emailing it to the Dollightful collaboration just a few hours before the final deadline.

So I basically liked the entire collaboration and I was thrilled when I not only saw my doll in that video but I saw so many other people’s submissions as well.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hotel bans all bloggers after a self-described “social media influencer” asks to stay for five free nights.

This is what a wedding cake for a wealthy Kazakh couple looks like.

The incredible inventiveness of Hedy Lamarr.

Automaton, robots, and the “end of work” myth.

These photos of Ingo the Dog and his owl friend are the only things you need to see today.

The world’s largest underwater cave is discovered in Mexico.

Cafe mocks photographer who asks that stolen photo be taken down.

Triplets grow up without parents but support each other and get scholarships to college.

Impossibly intricate embroideries by Chloe Giordano.

There is a YouTube channel completely devoted to medieval sacred music.

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Benjamin Franklin

He that Whines for Glass without G, take away L and that’s he.

Previous in this series.

Continuing this summer’s series of Throwback Thursday posts dedicated to Howard the Duck.

Howard the Duck Magazine #5
May, 1980

This cover has a very different illustration featuring Howard (in white feathers once again) as a vampire. The inside story mentioned that this illustration was created using a paper collage method that was painted with oils and turpentine. The result is one of the most visually striking Howard the Duck magazine covers I’ve ever seen. It had an arty yet playful quality to it. I really like this cover.

As for inside of the magazine, the good news is that all of the Playduck stuff that were featured prominently in the last issue was jettisoned and the magazine reverted back to its usual layout featuring one or two Howard stories per issue. (Which was just as well since the Playduck features were so riddled with heavy-handed duck parodies that they became simply dull.)

Story 1: The Tomb of Drākula
Credits: Bill Mantlo, script; Michael Golden and Bob McLeod, art

Synopsis: The story begins with a prologue where a magazine writer named Harold H. Harold is told by the editor-in-chief at a publishing house that he is being removed as the writer for Tales of Dracula magazine on the grounds that his work has been getting stale. Harold H. Harold protests his removal saying that he has devoted a huge part of his life and career researching Dracula and vampires before he jumps out of the window. Harold H. Harold survives the fall but he broke both of his legs and he ends up in a wheelchair as a result.

Meanwhile Howard is walking home carrying his clothes after a trip to the laundromat one night while he is thinking about how much he misses his native Duckworld. He runs into Dracula, who is so desperate to feed on some blood that he grabs Howard. Dracula bites into Howard’s neck only to quickly withdraw his teeth because he tasted feathers and he felt that Howard’s blood tasted disgusting.

That vampire bite had put Howard in a kind of a trance and he ends up arriving home without his laundry. He walks into the bedroom that he shares with Beverly while being oblivious to everyone around him. His friends feel that something is wrong with Howard. Winda volunteers to bring tea to Howard’s room. After she brings the tea to Howard’s room Howard becomes tempted by Winda that he attempts to bite Winda in her neck. Winda screams and Beverly runs into the bedroom where she sees Howard trying to bite Winda’s neck. She separates the two of them and Beverly, who is mistakenly thinking that Howard is trying to cheat on Beverly by attempting to have sex with Winda, throws Howard out of the bedroom and down a flight of stairs. Howard leaves the house in an attempt to find blood that he can drink.

Beverly begins to cry over what happened while Paul and Winda try to console her. When Winda mentions that Howard isn’t himself tonight, Harold H. Harold arrives at the home in his wheelchair. He introduces himself and talks about how he has made a career of tracking Dracula so he could write stories about the vampire. He manages to track Dracula to Cleveland and he said that his goal is to destroy Dracula. He tells Paul, Winda, and Beverly that, due to the fact that Dracula had bitten Howard but didn’t drink too much blood, Howard is suffering from the Vampire-Taint where he thinks that he is a vampire.

Meanwhile Howard attempts to drain blood from a couple of college cheerleaders but he had succeeded only in attacking one of the women’s pom-poms. A couple of men from a nearby house hear the commotion and they chase Howard away.

Paul, Winda, Beverly, and Harold H. Harold spend the entire night looking for Howard and Dracula only to not find either. Since Harold told the other three that vampires generally sleep during the daytime, they all decide not to resume their search until after sunset.

Howard eventually ends up in a sewer where he begins to become his old self although disoriented because he remembers hauling laundry home before but he hasn’t remembered anything else that had happened from the time that Dracula unsuccessfully attempted to suck his blood. He wants to investigate what is going on with him but he grows so tired that he decides to sleep in the sewer. Ironically he ends up sleeping only a few feet away from where Dracula is resting inside of his coffin.

At sunset both Howard and Dracula emerge from the sewer with each one never noticing that the other was also sleeping in the sewer just a few feet away. The two of them go on their own separate paths while continuing to not notice each other.

Paul, Winda, Beverly, and Harold H. Harold recruit Beverly’s Uncle Lee and Claude Starkowitz to help them search for Howard while driving around in Lee’s taxicab. They eventually catch up to Dracula at the Cleveland Zoo, where he attempts to drain an unknown woman (who’s probably a zoo employee or visitor) until he gets interrupted by Harold H. Harold and company. Meanwhile Howard, who is calling himself Drākula (pronounced “Drake-cue-la”), attempts to bite the neck of a duck.

Harold H. Harold tries unsuccessfully to drive a wooden stake into Dracula’s heart and he ends up flinging himself into the seal pool. Beverly hears a loud “QUACK” sound, finds Howard trying to bite that duck’s neck, and she grabs him away from that duck. She caresses Howard and tells him that she loves him, which breaks that vampire-like trance that Howard was under and he goes back to being his normal self. Dracula then hypnotizes Beverly and gets her to come to him so he could bite her neck. Howard grabs a piece of a wooden fence to use as a stake and drives it through Dracula’s heart.

By this point Harold H. Harold has managed to drag himself out of the seal pool. As Dracula is dying he tells Harold H. Harold that if he dies now, Harold’s series of vampire stories will have reached an unsatisfying conclusion. But if he takes that stake out of the vampire’s heart, Harold H. Harold will have more material to continue his vampire stories. Harold H. Harold falls into Dracula’s temptation and removes the stake from his heart. Dracula is instantly revived and the first thing he does is to bite Harold H. Harold’s neck and completely drain him. Once he has his fill, Dracula turns into a bat and flies away.

Three days later Harold H. Harold becomes a vampire himself and the last frame shows him in bat form where he is wearing glasses and a cast on both of his legs.

The Bottom Line: This is a hilarious story that parodies the vampire legend. In a way it’s reminiscent of the Hellcow story from Giant-Sized Man-Thing #5, complete with the hilarious idea of a vampire duck. I found this story thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end.

Story 2: Captain Americana
Credits: Bill Mantlo, script; Gene Colan and Dave Simons, art

Synopsis: Howard is working in his cab where he’s driving a couple to Cleveland Memorial Stadium so they can see the Cleveland Indians baseball team play. The man, who has obviously been drinking, is trying to force himself on the woman, who is resisting his advances. She hits him in the face, which results in his body leaning forward into the driver’s side of the front seat and right on top of Howard, who then loses control of the cab. The cab crashes in front of the gate.

At that moment someone on the Cleveland Indians team hits a home run and the ball flies right out of the stadium and it crashes through the back windshield of Howard’s taxi. The fans run outside of the stadium in pursuit of that home run ball and they converge on Howard’s taxi where they literally tear that vehicle apart until someone finds the ball. The cab is literally totaled by the time the fans leave, which results in Howard having to walk back to the taxicab company where he works.

After Howard breaks the news to company owner Lee Switzler (who’s also Beverly’s uncle) and mechanic Claude Starkowicz, Claude mentions that the totaled cab was the only taxicab that the company owned. Lee announces that he’s going to have to lay off both Howard and Claude until the insurance company pays for a new cab.

Howard walks home where he finds that Winda is the only housemate who’s still awake. He tells her about his recent troubles and how much he misses his home planet. Winda admits that due to her psionic powers, she could shift the Cosmic Axis just long enough to send Howard back to his home planet. But it results in this dilemma: If Howard goes home, he may have to break up with Beverly and he’s reluctant to do that.

Winda finds a job ad in the local newspaper that may be suitable for Howard. The family is looking for a baby sitter and references are not required. Howard walks to the home’s Shaker Heights location where he meets the mother and she immediately hires him on the spot. In fact, he’s expected to begin his new job immediately because the mother is on her way to a bridge game.

The mother ushers Howard to a room where he meets the three children—Billy, Sissy, and Junior, who seems to be only interested in playing with a pair of electric scissors and using them to cut up paper dolls. He also initially only says “Goo.” On the surface Junior looks like he’s the baby of the family but Howard got his first surprise when he’s told that Junior is actually 15 years old.

When Billy complains about his parents being out of the house so much that they might as well consider themselves orphans, the mother responds by taking the ice cream cone that Billy has been eating and smashing it in his face. She then tells Howard to not spare the rod when it comes to disciplining the kids before leaving the house so she could go to the bridge game.

At that point the kids begin to tell Howard about how their parents constant seem to live in the 1950s complete with playing only music from that era and constantly keeping the children cooped up in the house so they won’t get exposed to “outside ideas.” As a result, Junior regressed to being a baby once again who’s only interest is the electric scissors, which he proceeds to use on Howard. Howard gets away only to get tripped by Sissy while telling him that their parents strict discipline has resulted in the three of them becoming juvenile delinquents.

Sissy then demands that Howard gives her a dollar or else she’ll tell their father that he had propositioned her. When Howard refuses (mainly because he has no extra cash to spare), the kids begin to throw toys at Howard, who responds by attempting to leave the house.

At that moment the children’s father arrives home. He is muscular, wears a suit, and carries a briefcase in one hand and a shield that says “Good Homekeeping” in the other. The three children greet their father where they tell him that their new sitter is not normal and he’s a pervert. That makes the father angry enough to tell Howard that he is Captain Americana and he’s here to resist the perversion that has pervaded their all-American family with his shield, which has the Good Homekeeping Seal of Approval.

Captain Americana then pulls out his rifle, announces that it’s hunting season, and proceeds to pursue Howard while trying to shoot him. Howard manages to dodge the hail of bullets that are aimed his way.

Eventually Howard manages to escape out of a window where he passes the mother who is on her way home from the bridge game and he tells her that he’s trying to get as far away from her looney-tunes family as possible. She casually mentions that Howard was the fourth sitter the family had lost this month because none of them had come up to her husband’s strict standards.

That failed babysitting job is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and it has made Howard decide that he literally has no future on Earth and he would be better off back on his home planet of Duckworld. Howard tells Beverly his decision while Paul, Winda, Claude, and Lee are also present in the same room. She begins to cry while he tells her that he’s grown tired of having hairless apes (Howard’s term for human beings) look at him like a freak show and he simply wants to be back among his own kind where he can blend in with the crowd.

Howard also admits that he’s a bit reluctant to return because of his love for Beverly plus he has grown to consider Paul, Winda, Claude, and Lee to be more of a real family than his original family of origin. In the course of talking things over, he tells Beverly that he only wants to be at Duckworld for a little while and he intends to return to Earth just so he could be with Beverly and family. At that point, Beverly suggests that she goes to Duckworld with Howard, who agrees with the idea because it would give Beverly a first-hand look at what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land (which is Howard’s situation on Earth).

Winda then have Paul, Claude, and Lee gather around Howard and Beverly and hold hands as Winda uses her psionic powers to shift the Cosmic Axis. The story ends with Howard and Beverly disappearing from the room and heading on their way to Duckworld.

Topical References: Captain Americana points to a framed photo of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the kids mention how their parents love listening to music that was made no later than 1959, such as Frank Sinatra, Rick Nelson, and the Ink Spots. Captain Americana mentioning the Good Homekeeping Seal of Approval is a parody of an award that is given out by Good Housekeeping magazine known as the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. That award is given to a product that the magazine feels is of high quality. It’s usually considered a high honor for a product to have such a distinction and to this day one can still find products with that Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the package.

There was also a mention of Junior playing with electric scissors. I remember when they were popular when I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s but it has been years since I’ve last seen a pair of electric scissors. (I think my parents may have owned a pair at one point or maybe it was the parents of a playmate. I don’t really remember for sure.)

The Bottom Line: I thought it was a pretty funny story that had that over-the-top beginning of how Howard’s taxicab was totaled through a series of catastrophes and it continued through that wacky family who were fanatically devoted to a United States as it existed in the 1950s.

Captain Americana is obviously a parody of the Marvel superhero Captain America, complete with his own shield. It was a pretty well-done parody that riffed off of Captain America’s straight-laced tendencies in a hilarious way.

I first read this story around the same time as Donald Trump formally announcing his 2020 re-election campaign in Orlando and I saw footage of his supporters that seem to consist mostly of older white Americans. If this story had been written in 2019 (when I’m writing this review), I’m sure Captain Americana and his dysfunctional family would fit right in with the Make America Great Again crowd.

Story 3: Foul Fiends and Felonious Fellows
Credits: Lynn Graeme, writer

Synopsis: It’s basically a one-page text story featuring a short rogue’s gallery of the past villains whom Howard had crossed paths with. It focuses on the Kidney Lady, Patsy Dragonsworth the child mad scientist, and Pro-Rata.

The Bottom Line: It’s okay for people who haven’t been reading Howard the Duck for a long time but long-time readers would probably just briefly glance over this then turn the page.

Story 4: Interview With the Duck
Credits: Lynn Graeme, writer

Synopsis: It’s a text-only profile of Howard the Duck that’s written in the style of a celebrity interview (like one would see in People magazine).

The Bottom Line: It’s cute but it’s basically fluff that can easily be skipped. It doesn’t really add anything to Howard the Duck’s overall story.

Story 5: A Fond Look at Fowl Friends
Credits: Bill Mantlo, writer

Synopsis: It’s a text-based story that takes a look at the various friends and allies of Howard the Duck, starting from the duck’s first appearance in the two-part sword and sorcery epic Journey Into Fear #19 and Man-Thing #1. It covers similar ground to the “Duck Soup” story that appeared in Howard the Duck Magazine #3.

The Bottom Line: Like the earlier “Duck Soup” story, this one is obviously for those who are relatively new to Howard the Duck’s story. This story places more of an emphasis on the friends and allies that Howard has made since he arrived on Earth but longtime readers of Howard the Duck will become bored with this story.

This issue was reprinted in Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 3, which can be purchased online at AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepository, eBay, IndieBound, Indigo, and Powell’s.

Next post in this series.

The Howard the Duck Series

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 1

The Early Stories
Howard the Duck #1-3
Howard the Duck #4-5
Howard the Duck #6
Howard the Duck #7 and Marvel Treasury Edition #12: Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck #8

Howard the Duck #9-11
Howard the Duck #12-14
Howard the Duck King Size Annual #1 and Howard the Duck #15
Howard the Duck #16

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 2

Howard the Duck #17-19
Howard the Duck #20-22
Howard the Duck #23-25
Howard the Duck #26-28
Howard the Duck #29-31
Howard the Duck Magazine #1

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 3

Howard the Duck Magazine #2
Howard the Duck Magazine #3
Howard the Duck Magazine #4
Howard the Duck Magazine #5
Howard the Duck Magazine #6
Howard the Duck Magazine #7

I had recently decided to work on a few new potential creative projects and I went shopping in the Laurel, Maryland area to see if it was even feasible for me to turn a few potential ideas I had swirling around in my head into a reality. I first stopped off at this thrift store for the first time in a few years. I saw that it still has the old name of Laurel Thrift Center on the outside but walking inside I saw that it is now part of a chain known as Thrifty’s Thrift Stores.

The only real major change is that there is now a computer store and repair service shop located in the back known as Thrifty Fix. It’s a place where cash-strapped people can get their next desktop or laptop computer for a fraction of the price that one would find in places like BestBuy. All of the computers on sale are used but they have had the latest operating system installed. I saw this laptop on sale that sounds like it could be an excellent bargain for anyone who needs one but doesn’t have the money to buy one brand new. It’s for a Dell Latitude E6410 and for $229.99 (plus tax), one could get a laptop with the following features:

  • Windows 10 Professional 64 bits 1903
  • Microsoft Office 2007
  • Intel Core i5 M520 @ 2.40 GhZ
  • Memory 8 GB DDR3 Ram
  • HD 320GB SATA
  • Optical drives including a DVD-writer
  • High definition audio
  • Intel HD integrated graphic card
  • SD card reader
  • HDMI port
  • Fast Ethernet network adapter and Wi-fi.

I also found a fully functional Furby on the store shelf. This one is obviously one of the later Furbys because it has LED eyes (in comparison to the earlier versions with regular looking eyes) and it’s about twice the size of the original 1998-2001 Furbys. I once did a fan site devoted to Furby back in 1998 but I haven’t really explored the newer Furbys that have come out in recent years due in large part to dealing with the fallout from my divorce plus tight finances.

I briefly thought about buying that used Furby and brining it home for old time’s sake but I ended not doing it because I’m not fully out of paying off debts (even though I am now working at various day jobs more than I have before) and I have a lot of stuff in my home that I’m thinking about getting rid of and brining home more stuff that will just sit on a shelf somewhere is something that I really don’t need to do at the moment.

Afterwards I headed over to Michaels Arts & Crafts. I saw that they had Ty on the shelves. I still remember the Ty Beanie Babies craze of the late 1990s where various Beanie Babies shot up in value only to have that market totally crash and many people literally lost huge amounts of money on that speculation. Ty is still around but its products no longer command huge amounts of money on the secondary market.

I saw that Ty has a new line called Flippables and it basically capitalizes on that current craze of sequins that can change color. (Basically these sequins have both sides in two different colors. If you take your fingers and flip the sequins one way, they will be one color. If you flip them another way, they will be a different color. They are currently a hit with kids. I’ve seen sequin pillows, sequin stuffed animals, and even t-shirts with flippable sequins.) The next two photos show a dinosaur whose color you can change with just a flip of the sequins.

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