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It’s been two years since I last went to this annual event, which traditionally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The last time I was there, the Sakura Matsuri was held on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the Old Post Office Building (which was then undergoing renovation into the Trump International Hotel—you can see those giant blue TRUMP signs in the background of some of the photos I took during that event).

Since that time the event has been relocated. It is now held at the Navy Yards near Nationals Park. I don’t know if Donald Trump have had a hand in that festival’s relocation or not but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to see those Trump International Hotel signs.

Like previous Sakura Matsuri festivals, this one was a celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture including anime, J-pop, J-rock, kendo, and traditional Japanese crafts. There were also a lot of cosplayers walking around. Here are the photos I took of the Sakura Matsuri.

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

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Howard the Duck #23
Star Waaugh
April, 1978

Credits: Steve Gerber, writer/editor; Val Mayerik, artist; I. Watanabe, inker; Janice Cohen, colorist

This issue is the second of a two-part Star Wars parody that was created as a result of a reunion of the original co-creators of Howard the Duck, Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik.

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Synopsis: This issue picks up where the last one left off as Bzzk Joh manages to enter the castle through the Waters of Eternity and kidnaps Jennifer Kale while threatening to make her bald if anyone tries to rescue her. Bzzk Joh mentions that he’s the head of the Imperium Imporium, which has been buying up property all over the galaxy in order to build a giant shopping mall that will be the ultimate in crassness.

Bzzk Joh sinks back into the Waters of Eternity with Jennifer Kale as his hostage. As she sinks after Bzzk Joh, she raises a hand out of the water and quickly conducts a spell before she is entirely submerged. Korek attempts to dive into the Waters of Eternity only to have that water turn solid and Korek crashes his body on the hard surface.

Jennifer Kale’s last-minute spell results in the creation of two druid-droids (which are the magical equivalent of robots) known as NAAC-P30 and 2-2-2-2, who is nicknamed Tutu and resembles a trashcan. NAAC-P30 and Tutu were created to serve as guides for Howard, Korrek, and the Man-Thing.

The two druid-droids eventually lead the others to a spaceship known as the Epoch Weasel. The ship flies right up to a giant tractor trailer that’s flying in outer space with the words Imperium Imporium on the side. The tractor trailer attacks by releasing a bunch of various men’s products (such as electric razors and watches) followed by all kinds of housewares (such as blenders and cast iron skillets). The items crash into the Epoch Weasel. The Imperium Imporium also uses psychological warfare in the form of a customer service agent who’s unleashed into space shouting “NO!” repeatedly.

The Epoch Weasel’s engines die so the spaceship lands on a planet known as Boorbanq. They enter the Hollywok Canteen, which is noted for its “Plastic Szechuan Cuisine,” and see that it’s full of Californian men wearing leisure suits. Korrek is sent to hobnob with the people inside because he’s the one person in the group who could blend in the best with these Southern Californians, despite the fact that Korrek is a barbarian from a time period hundreds of years before the 1970’s. Korrek schmoozes among the people initially until he meets with a hamburger-headed man known as Big Mack and Korrek totally loses it by punching Big Mack’s hamburger head while saying “Have a nice day!” The California men start to surround Korrek. Howard tried to defend Korrek by using the Farce, which turns out to be a joke flag gun that shoots out a flag reading “Down With Peacocks!” It leads to the California men suddenly collapsing under the weight of their own pretensions because they couldn’t understand that the Farce is really a joke flag gun.

Meanwhile Bzzk Joh looks over the inventory of the Imperium Imporium and decides that it’s time to approach a bound and gagged Jennifer Kale. He starts to tickle her.

Howard and the others somehow manage to borrow another space cruiser where they find the Death Store—the Imperium Imporium itself. Tutu manages to find an entrance to the Death Store by detecting irregularities in the store’s bookkeeping department. They find Bzzk Joh in the middle of his tickle session with Jennifer Kale. The subsequent battle begins, complete with Bzzk Joh’s people hurling perfume bottles, office supplies, and sporting equipment at Jennifer Kale’s would-be rescuers.

Howard and the Man-Thing catch up with Bzzk Joh, who unleashes his two secret weapons—the Dearth Vapors—who turn out to be a wholesome-looking duo with bright smiling teeth who resemble Donny and Marie Osmond. When they start to smile, their teeth shoots out saccharine, which covers the Man-Thing and Howard. The Man-Thing becomes so angry that he bursts out of his saccharine covering, lays his hands off the Dearth Vapors, and melts the pair.

Howard finally uses the Farce on Bzzk Joh. The flag message, which reads “You Have No Sense of Humor,” is enough to neutralize Bzzk Joh as he starts to break down and cry. Howard frees Jennifer Kale.

Everyone races back to the space cruiser because Tutu had activated every item in the store’s toy department and the Death Store is on the verge of exploding. As the space cruiser flies away, the Death Store explodes, presumably killing Bzzk Joh and everyone else who was on board.

Topical 1970’s Reference: Like its predecessor, this issue is also a parody of Star Wars. At the time only the first movie had been released with simply the Star Wars title but it has since been renamed Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. The biggest irony is that years after this issue was released Disney would buy both Marvel and the Star Wars franchise so they now co-exist under the same corporation.

NAAC-P30 begins to pilot the Epoch Weasel by pressing the button marked “Bat Out of Hell,” which also happens to be the title of Meat Loaf’s first album that was released in 1977 and it became one of the best-selling albums in the history of recorded music. Here’s a vintage video of Meat Loaf performing the title track from Bat Out of Hell.

The planet Boorbanq is modeled after Burbank in California, which is frequently billed as the Media Capital of the World. The clientele is modeled after the stereotypical 1970’s leisure suit-wearing Southern California men. One customer, Big Mack, is a hilarious riff on Mayor McCheese from those McDonald’s ads.


The two Dearth Vapors resemble Donny and Marie Osmond, who had their own hit music variety show, Donny & Marie. While I was doing some online research while I was writing this, I came across this clip from an episode of the Donny & Marie show that is a Star Wars musical parody.

Bzzk Joh, an infamous real estate developer with his frequent tendency towards being a loudmouthed braggart brings to mind another infamous real estate developer with an equal tendency towards being a loudmouthed braggart who is currently running for President of the United States as I’m typing this in 2016—Donald Trump. Even though Trump wouldn’t become famous on the national stage for another few years (with the publication of his first book, The Art of the Deal, in 1987), he became a local celebrity in New York City after he moved to Manhattan in 1971 while getting involved in larger construction projects that used attractive architectural design to win public recognition. What’s more Donald Trump started to court the New York media in the 1970’s by using his two publicists named John Barron and John Miller. Recently it was revealed that the real identities of the two publicists named John were none other than Donald Trump himself. Since Marvel is based in New York City, it’s not that big of a stretch to think that it’s possible that Bzzk Joh was modeled after The Donald.

As for Bzzk Joh’s Imperium Imporium, it wouldn’t be a big surprise if it was based on Walmart. At that time Walmart founder Sam Walton had been aggressively expanding his stores into rural areas of the U.S. by both buying up regional discount chains like Mohr-Value and buying land to build his stores, which grew increasingly bigger.

The Bottom Line: The second part of the Star Wars parody is even funnier than the first part as this issue not only skewers that movie but also every single aspect of 1970’s pop culture. The only time the jokes fell flat was when it came to naming one of the druid-droids. The shorter druid-droid’s name, 2-2-2-2, is a hilarious take on R2-D2 along with its nickname, Tutu. As for the C-3PO parody, it’s obvious that NAAC-P30’s name is patterned after the NAACP. That one falls flat because there’s really no logical reason why the NAACP (which is the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S. and it stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) would have anything to do with science fiction other than an opportunity to riff on the acronym. Fortunately that’s the only joke that’s pretty off because the rest of the issue is funny as hell. Even if younger readers don’t get the reference to Donny and Marie Osmond, they’ll still laugh at all of the Star Wars references. It’s sheer genius to parody Star Wars’ famous Canteen scene as the Hollywok Canteen that’s located on the planet Boorbanq with the stereotypical 1970’s Southern California men dressed in leisure suits (you couldn’t get more stereotypical 1970’s than men’s leisure suits) standing in for the aliens from the original Star Wars Canteen scene. This is yet another memorable high point of the original 1970’s comic book series.

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Howard the Duck #24
Where Do You Go—What Do You Do—The Night After You Save The Universe?
May, 1978

Credits: Steve Gerber, writer/editor; Gene Colan, artist; Tom Palmer, inker; Joe Rosen, letterer; Janice Cohen, colorist

Synopsis: The spaceship that Howard rides in after Bzzk Joh and his Imperium Imporium were both destroyed in the last issue lands on top of the apartment building where Howard is currently staying at 2 a.m. Howard bids farewell to his comrades from the last two issues before the spaceship heads back into outer space.

Howard arrives at the apartment that once belonged to his former boss (and Beverly’s uncle) Lee Switzler and he looks at the calendar. He sees that the ship S.S. Damned is due to dock in New York City many hours later. That’s the same ship that he was on with Beverly, Paul, and Winda until Doctor Bong abducted both Howard and Beverly. Howard begins to look forward to being reunited with Paul and Winda. (Beverly was forced to marry Doctor Bong and stay at the compound in the Himalayas in order to spare Howard’s life.)

Howard goes to bed and tries to get some sleep. He soon has a nightmare involving Doctor Bong and the Kidney Lady that’s so intense that he wakes up.

Howard goes to the kitchen to see if he can find a post-midnight snack and the only thing he could find was a box of slightly chewy potato chips. He takes the chips and goes to back to the bedroom where he turns on the TV set. He ends up turning on a Western where a cowboy shoots another cowboy named Howard.

Howard turns off the TV and ditches the potato chips. He decides to go outside and take a walk.

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He begins to recount the experiences he’s gone through since Beverly and Winda were abducted by a magic carpet in Howard the Duck King Size Annual #1. Howard trips over a drunken man who’s laying in the middle of the sidewalk. The drunk mistakes Howard for a woman named Marie (who’s probably either his wife or girlfriend) and grabs hold of one of Howard’s legs. A group of would-be robbers talk openly about how easy it would be to go after Howard and the drunk. Howard decides to free his leg from the drunk’s grasp by burning the drunk’s hand with his cigar. The drunk emits a scream that’s so awful that the would-be robbers run away. The drunk hangs on to Howard’s leg for a little bit longer until Howard decides to just slide his foot through the man’s grasp and manages to free himself.

As Howard walks away from his encounter with the drunk he accidentally walks into a woman carrying a bunch of bags, which results in the woman spilling the bags’ contents all over the sidewalk.Howard apologizes to the woman but the woman responds by spitting in his face.

Howard walks by a phone booth, where a payphone starts to ring. Howard answers the phone only to find that it’s an obscene phone call.

Howard walks past a woman at a bus stop. He hears that same woman scream so he races back to the bus stop. It turns out that the woman was being attacked but she managed to throw her attacker to the ground. The woman tells Howard that the attacker is her husband and they’ve been playing some kind of a kinky game for the past two weeks where the woman waits outside late at night, her husband tries to attack her, and she fights back by knocking him to the ground.

Howard walks into a donut shop that’s open all night only to find it deserted. He hears mumbling from behind the counter, where he discovers a donut shop clerk whose hands and feet are tied up with a donut stuffed in his mouth. Howard frees him and the donut shop clerk tells Howard about how a dissatisfied customer had demanded his money back because he claimed that he broke a tooth biting into a donut he purchased at that shop.  When the clerk refused, the customer punches the clerk, ties him up, puts the donut in his mouth, and empties the cash register before walking out of the shop. Howard offers to call the police but the donut shop clerk refuses because he says that the customer only took a couple of dollars because it had been a slow night. The grateful clerk offers Howard a free donut and a cup of coffee. Howard turns down the donut but drinks the free coffee. Howard talks with the clerk until it’s close to the time where the S.S. Damned is due to dock.

Howard rushes to Pier 43 just in time to see Paul and Winda disembark from the ship. Once Howard greets them, he falls asleep in Winda’s arms. As the couple walk away with a sleeping Howard they remark that Howard’s fortune is going to change when he wakes up (while providing a cliffhanger for the next issue).

Topical 1970’s Reference: Howard walking past a payphone, which is definitely a throwback to an era before most people carried around their own cell phones. I used to frequently see payphones everywhere but now I can’t even tell you when I’ve last seen a payphone anywhere. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve even seen a payphone, let alone a phone booth.

The Bottom Line: This is one of the more surreal issues (yet nowhere near as surreal as issue 16) as Howard, who’s fresh from his recent adventure in outer space, walks around the streets of New York City in the middle of the night due to insomnia. While Howard encounters ordinary people with no superpower or magical ability of any kind, they are still in situations that are either bizarre, dysfunctional, or both. This issue is an okay issue in that it’s entertaining seeing Howard encounter New Yorkers of all types in the middle of the night but it lacks the wicked satire of the two previous issues (which was a two-part Star Wars parody) or the classic “Howard for President” story arc (as depicted in Howard the Duck #7, Marvel Treasury Edition #12: Howard the Duck, and Howard the Duck #8). It is a pretty interesting glimpse of what a Marvel character does during his downtime between dealing with super villains or strange situations, which is pretty rare in comic books. (I don’t recall ever seeing a story on what Spider-Man or Wolverine do when they have the day off from fighting super villains.)

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Howard the Duck #25
Getting Smooth!
June, 1978

Credits: Steve Gerber, writer/editor; Gene Colan, artist; Klaus Janson, inker; I. Watanabe, letterer; Jan Cohen, colorist

Synopsis: The story begins in the Boys’ Department at Macy’s where Howard is trying on various outfits while Paul and Winda look on. Once Howard decides on a new suit, Paul pulls out a wad of cash and pays for the suit on the spot. Howard chides Paul for flashing cash because he’s concerned that it will make him into a mugging victim. Paul then buys a box of expensive cigars with cash and gives Howard one of them.

Paul hails a taxi where the three of them ride to a luxury hotel. During the drive, Paul recounts his time on the S.S. Damned after Howard and Beverly were abducted by Doctor Bong. Paul spent much of his time drawing in his sketchbook. One day Paul decided to draw a woman who turned out to be a wealthy socialite and heiress named Iris Raritan. Paul offered to give Iris his sketch but she insisted on buying it instead. She told Paul that she wasn’t the only affluent passenger on that ship and that there were others willing to pay for his sketches. Paul started getting more sketching commissions on that ship due to Iris’ connections.

The three enter the hotel lobby only to have an employee point at Howard and say that the hotel does not allow pets. When Howard verbally protests, the employee drops the subject and leads the three to the room where Iris is holding a special reception. Iris introduces the three to a circus owner and ringmaster named Mr. Thraller, who plans on having his circus perform at Iris’ Friday evening party. Iris also tells the three that they are invited to the party as well.

Meanwhile Beverly makes her first appearance in this comic book since issue #18. Not surprisingly she’s unhappy about her forced marriage to Doctor Bong and it doesn’t help that Doctor Bong has been more involved with working in his laboratory than spending any time with his bride. It’s implied that since Doctor Bong has won Beverly from Howard, she has become just another possession that he can neglect in favor of more recent interests and pursuits. Beverly finally becomes fed up with being the neglected wife so she barges over to Doctor Bon’s laboratory and demands that he removes his bell mask so the two of them can, in her words, “play house.” The scene ends with the couple kissing while Doctor Bong’s mutant minions watch and clap.

The story picks up in New York City a few days later as Howard, Paul and Winda are in the apartment that was once rented by Beverly’s uncle, Lee, but Howard is allowed to stay in it until the end of the month because Lee had already paid the rent. Lee calls Howard from Cleveland and tells him that he has just lined up a new business opportunity and he wants to take Howard in as a partner. Howard accepts the offer and hangs up the phone. Paul, Winda, and Howard take a taxi to Iris Raritan’s Long Island mansion where her party is being held. When the trio arrive, Iris formally introduces Paul to her other guests as her latest discovery while introducing the other two as Paul’s companions. The wealthy guests are suddenly shocked at seeing a well-dressed duck.

While Iris is showing Paul around to the other guests, Winda and Howard attempt to schmooze the other guests only to have these guests look down on them. One guest made a snarky remark about Winda’s lisp and how she finds Howard’s presence to be distasteful because she thinks he’s a midget in a duck costume. Winda snarks back at that guest.

Mr. Thraller’s circus begin its performance inside of Iris’ mansion while introducing Cannonball, Princess Python, The Clown, and The Great Gabonnos. The circus performers do their initial routines then Mr. Thraller tells the guests to look his way while he hypnotizes them. As the guests are hypnotized, the circus performers start to steal the guests’ valuables including money, wallets, and jewelry.

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Mr. Thraller decides to take a hypnotized Howard by the hand and lead him to the circus truck where the circus kidnaps the duck. As the truck heads towards Pennsylvania, all of the guests at Iris’ party eventually regain consciousness and they realized that they had been robbed. Howard regains consciousness inside of a trunk in the circus truck where he bangs on the lid until Mr. Thraller opens the lid. He tells Howard that the duck is now part of the circus and if he refuses to go along with his new situation, he will tell the authorities that Howard was an accessory to the robbery at Iris Raritan’s party and he will end up in prison with the rest of the Circus of Crime.

Topical 1970’s Reference: Howard’s frequent warnings to Paul that he could become a mugging victim for showing off wads of cash was a reference to the really bad crime problem that New York City had back in the 1970’s.

The Bottom Line: I cringed when I saw Beverly demanding some quality time from Doctor Bong, especially since she didn’t willingly marry him out of love. (She only married him because he threatened to kill Howard if she refused.) If I had been forced into a marriage like that, trying to beg my husband for attention would be the last thing I’d do. In fact, I would be way more bitter at him for forcing me into such a horrible situation. It’s possible that the writer Steve Gerber was trying to either demonstrate Stockholm Syndrome or have Beverly simply try to make the best out of a bad situation. If either scenario is the case, it’s such a vague and poorly written scene. It just left me with an unfavorable impression of Beverly as someone who is weak enough to seek affection from her own kidnapper who forced her to marry him instead of being an independent woman with enough of a mind of her own to try to think of ways of escaping from that castle in the Himalayas.

The rest of the issue is pretty interesting. There’s the classism strewn throughout that party scene from Winda facing the wealthy snobby woman who looked down on her for her lisp to Iris parading Paul around like he was her latest possession. There’s the excessive throwing around of money where Iris was able to actually hire a circus to give a private performance at her party. And then there is the circus itself, which is really run by a gang of thieves who use the circus as a cover so the ringmaster can hypnotize his audience while the rest of the circus performers rob the audience of their valuables. The idea of a Circus of Crime is pretty unique and very funny.

These issues were reprinted in Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 2, which can be purchased onine at AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepository, Half.com, IndieBound, Indigo, 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

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Here’s another entry is this summer’s series of Throwback Thursdays dedicated to Howard the Duck.

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Howard the Duck King-Size Annual #1
Thief of Bagmom!
August, 1977

Credits: Steve Gerber, writer/editor; Val Mayerik, artist; M. Skrenes, co-scenarist; Joe Rosen, letterer; Jan Cohen, colorist

This is a special issue that’s slightly more expensive yet longer than the average comic book of the 1970’s. The first page of this book heralds the reunion of Howard the Duck’s original co-creators, Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik, for the first time since the duck’s first appearance in a comic book in 1973.

Synopsis: This story takes place after the events in Howard the Duck #14 and before the events in Howard the Duck #15 (reviewed below). Howard, Beverly, and Winda have been living in Paul’s tiny one room apartment since Howard and Winda were released from the mental institution. Howard is seen alone in the living room in the twilight of a Saturday. A note left behind by the others mentions that they went shopping and they would return by six. Howard’s mental health is still fragile since he’s getting over suffering a near nervous breakdown that prompted his stay at the institution. He starts to feel agitated by the trash that’s strewn on the floor because money is too tight to afford a wastebasket.

Paul, Winda, and Beverly return from their shopping expedition where they were able to find some bargains. Among the items they purchased cheap are a decorative carpet that would be used as a layer between the sleeping bags and the wood floor and a gold lamp.

During much bantering between the four roommates Beverly and Winda lay on their newly purchased carpet. At one point Winda tells Howard and Paul that their behavior are rigid, except Winda speaks with a lisp so she pronounces “rigid” as “wigid.” It turns out that Winda has inadvertently uttered a secret magic word that makes the carpet rise up towards the ceiling with Beverly and Winda still on the carpet then fly out an open window. (It later turns out that the magic word used to activate the flying magic carpet is the name of a wizard named Wijid.)

Moments later two Middle Eastern guards in traditional Arab garb and wielding long swords arrive at the apartment demanding the return of the rug—known as “Wijid’s rug”—or they will be beheaded. Howard grabs the gold lamp and hits one of the guards on the leg which leads Paul to flip the other guard over his shoulders. This sets off a brawl in the apartment that is interrupted when the neighbors arrive at the door in order to request that they stop fighting so the neighbors can watch the wrestling match on TV. The guards realize that they have been spotted by others so they leap out of the apartment window to escape. Except they forget that it’s a five-story drop and the guards end up dead.

Unfortunately the dead guards were the only ones who could’ve provided a clue as to where the flying carpet took Beverly and Winda. In desperation Paul grabs the gold lamp and rubs it while making a wish a la Aladdin. No genie emerges but a cloud of smoke spelling “Gotcha!” emerges from the lamp. Moments later a radio station calls the apartment. Howard answers the phone and he finds out that he was selected to answer this question for a prize: Who is buried in Grant’s tomb? When Howard answers “Grant,” the radio station informs him that he has just won a trip for two to Bagmom. Paul remembers that the two guards mentioned Bagmom before they leaped to their deaths.

The flying carpet takes Beverly and Winda to Bagmom, which is a Middle Eastern city that has been isolationist for some 1,500 years. Bagmom is ruled by a Caliph whose personal wizard, Wijid, is showing him his latest carving of a wooden mule. The Caliph’s son, Prince Hassim, is less than impressed with the wooden mule and he tells his father that he’s wasting his time on such frivolities before storming out in a huff. Both the Caliph and Wijid bemoan the son’s negative attitude towards Bagmom’s tradition, which he developed after he went away to college in Cleveland.

At that moment the flying carpet carrying Beverly and Winda arrive. It turns out that the carpet was the one that Wijid gave to Hassim prior to Hassim’s departure for America to attend college there. Hassim would later hock that carpet in order to buy himself a Brooks Brothers suit, which was how Paul, Winda, and Beverly were able to buy it so cheap in the first place. The Caliph is so pleasantly surprised that the carpet had brought back two Western women that he orders his guard to place the women among his harem while figuring that they would be especially appealing to Hassim since the son is so drawn towards all things Western.

Howard and Paul fly in an airplane until they reach Bagmom. They find out that planes aren’t allowed to land in Bagmom so Howard and Paul are forced to don parachutes and jump out of the plane. They land in a Bagmom alley. Moments later a thief with a dagger named Ali Wazoo approaches them. There is a language barrier between them so Paul brings out the gold lamp and makes a wish that they can understand each other. The lamp brings out a puff of smoke that spells “‘Nuff Said” and everyone can suddenly understand each other.

Howard, Paul, and Ali Wazoo’s attempt at getting to know each other is cut short when the Caliph’s police arrive in their pursuit of Ali Wazoo. The trio manage to run away and avoid capture. The trio arrive at a hiding place with a stone door on the ground that Ali Wazoo is able to open by saying what turns out to be an ad line in a 1970’s McDonald’s commercial. The door is an entrance to a secret underground railway that has long been used by thieves as a way of transporting stolen loot.

They take one of the railway cars to the home of the youngest and most daring of all of Bagmom’s thieves, Abu Ho Dadi. They make their introductions until Ali Wazoo sees something going on in the distance. Howard, Paul, and Abu Ho Dadi investigate and they find Prince Hassim making a deal with two American executives from an oil company known as Roxxon. Apparently Hassim has been making deals with these men behind his father’s back and Hassim is about to introduce his father to them in the hopes of Roxxon gaining exploration rights in Bagmom. Hassim tells the Roxxon executives about the arrival of two Western women and if the Caliph can admire Western technology half as much as the two women then Roxxon is sure to score the deal. At that moment Howard is enraged by what he has heard that he emerges from his hiding place (where he, Paul, and Abu Ho Dadi have been eavesdropping) and tells the American Roxxon executives that the Caliph has abducted two of their fellow countrywomen. Hassim is so taken by a talking duck that he kidnaps Howard so he can give the duck to his father as a present. As Hassim, the two Roxxon executives, and Howard drive off Abu Ho Dadi tells Paul that he hoped that something like this would happen because it would give his band of thieves a way of entering the palace.

The Caliph hosts an elaborate party at his palace complete with members of his harem fawning over him. Wijid presents the Caliph with a completed version of his wooden mule, which not only has emeralds and rubies encrusted on it but it also comes with a cashbox. The Caliph becomes enraged over the addition of the cashbox until Hassim enters and admits that the cashbox addition was his idea. (He figures that the wooden mule could be displayed in the fountain square and, for a price, children could ride it while their mothers did the laundry.)

Hassim brings over a wooden pallet full of consumer items from that were provided by Hassim’s Roxxon associates including a television set, a stereo, digital clocks, blenders, and electric can openers. The Caliph protests that people in Bagmom has traditionally made their own merriment without needing modern electric appliances and, besides, Bagmom doesn’t even have electricity. Hassim then brings out a small trunk and opens it. Howard the duck is inside and the Caliph is immediately smitten at the thought of a talking duck.

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The Caliph orders the two newest members of his harem to come out and do a dance. They turn out to be Beverly and Winda. The two women do a Rockettes-style dance while Winda improvises the lyrics to the Broadway song “The Lullaby of Broadway” that includes references to the crime problems that plagued New York back in the 1970’s. In the meantime Hassim pressures his father into signing the contract allowing Roxxon exploration rights in Bagmom. Just as the moment when Hassim finally convinces his father to sign the contract. Paul Same, Abu Ho Dadi, and his gang of thieves emerge from under the palace and through the floor. While a brawl breaks out, Abu Ho Dadi informs the Caliph that his son is attempting to let Roxxon drill Bagmom for oil in exchange for being the primary recipient of the profits while allowing the company to use his own people as sources of cheap labor.

During the brawl Hassim, Beverly, and Winda disappear. It turns out that he kidnapped the women and put them in a biplane that he’s flying himself. There are no other airplanes in Bagmon that can be used to chase the biplane so Wijid suggests using the wooden mule while putting a dinar coin in the cash box. The mule sprouts wings like a wooden Pegasus. Howard flies the wooden mule until he catches up with the biplane. Beverly and Winda seize this opportunity to climb out of the biplane and onto the mule’s back in midair. Hassim uses the machine gun on the plane to shoot at the wooden mule. Howard uses a special feature on the mule that Wijid installed where he pushes a red button and out pops a little knife-wielding robot. The robot throws a series of knives at the plane’s propellor, breaking the blades one by one. Prince Hassim manages to float his biplane safely on the ground only to encounter another problem—he lands the plane right into Israel.The epilogue takes place on board a cruise ship sailing through the Mediterranean Sea. The Caliph sends Howard, Beverly, Paul, and Winda on an all-expense paid cruise back to the U.S. out of gratitude for their role in exposing Hassim and the Roxxon oil executives. Howard and Beverly are walking together on deck until Winda catches up with them. She says that Paul has decided to make a third and final wish on the gold lamp and is rubbing it now. By the time the three of them catch up with Paul, they see that the lamp has spit out smoke spelling this phrase, “Lecherous Cur! No!” Paul refuses to divulge what that wish was because he feels too embarrassed to say out loud but the story hints that the wish had something to do with Winda.

Topical 1970’s References: Ali Wazoo opens a secret door leading to an underground railway for thieves by uttering what was this catchphrase that was used in many McDonald’s TV commercials in the 1970’s which touted the ingredients of the Big Mac: Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.

When Hassim flies the biplane he utters the phrase “Ten-Four, Good Buddy!” That’s talk that is usually made on citizens band (or c.b.) radio, which was briefly a big fad in the 1970’s thanks in large part to C.W. McCall’s hit song, “Convoy.”

Winda and Beverly do a musical number to “Lullabye of Broadway” with radically altered lyrics. That song is from the musical 42nd Street, which has undergone numerous revivals over the years.

Winda makes up the lyrics to “The Lullaby of Broadway” to include references to New York’s severe crime problem back in the 1970’s that had grown so bad that the NYPD actually came out with a brochure titled Welcome to Fear City that was designed to discourage tourism. There were all kinds of societal ills from gang violence to an epidemic in drug abuse to prostitution and all kinds of other illicit activities.

The Bottom Line: This issue is full of stereotypes of Arabs that are of the sort that is frequently seen in Hollywood movies. I did an eye roll when the Caliph said that his oil-rich Bagmom has no electricity. Later on in the story the Caliph hears the plane engine when his son starts the biplane and he’s confused because he seems to imply that there aren’t any motors or anything mechanized in Bagmom. Maybe there was a time when the Arab states were relatively primitive compared to the West but I seriously doubt that it was still the case by the 1970’s when this story was written.

What saves this issue from being yet another ridiculous exercise in Arab stereotyping is its spot-on parody of the dark side of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, which had long been driven by its dependence on oil and which has been heavily influenced by wealthy oil companies—a policy that still continues to this day. It’s no accident that President George W. Bush, a one-time oilman, had ordered an invasion of the oil-rich nation of Iraq on the false claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that Halliburton, a company that was once led by Vice President Dick Cheney, had benefitted the most from that invasion.

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Howard the Duck #15
The Island of Dr. Bong!
August, 1977

Credits: Steve Gerber, writer/editor; Gene Colan, artist; Klaus Janson, inker/colorist; Irv Watanabe, letterer

Synopsis: Howard and Beverly are enjoying themselves as they stroll the top deck of the cruise ship S.S. Damned that the Caliph of Bagmom had arranged for them at the end of the Howard the Duck King-Size Annual #1. Howard sits on the deck rail while Beverly leans on it as the pair talks about how relaxed they’ve been feeling since boarding that cruise ship. Winda, who’s playing shuffleboard nearby accidentally hits Howard on the head with the puck. The duck falls off the rail and into the ocean as a result. Even though Howard is a duck, he can’t swim so he starts to flounder.

Suddenly a giant sea serpent wearing a top rises up from the ocean while saying nothing but “Neez!” Winda finds a life preserver and throws it at Howard, who then clutches on to it while the sea serpent starts to attack the ship. One man on deck tries to shoot the sea serpent with a rifle to no avail. Howard, who’s still in the ocean, sees a label on the sea serpent’s belly that says to press the red button in order to give the sea serpent pleasure. Howard does as instructed and the sea serpent pauses with his eyes lit up and a big smile on his face. The sea serpent leaves the ship alone and heads off in the opposite direction while his body quivers with delight and saying “Neez!” over and over again.

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Howard is rescued and hailed by the ship’s captain as a hero. In gratitude the captain invites Howard, Beverly, Paul, and Winda to a private formal party that is held a few hours later. Howard and Beverly go out on the dance floor as a band does a lounge lizard version of Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Everyone eventually sits down for dinner where the main dish is revealed: duck l’orange. For Howard it’s cannibalism so he suddenly becomes so sick that he runs out of the party.

Howard decides to relax on the top deck in order to clear his head. Suddenly a giant chunk of granite falls from out of the sky and lands on deck close to Howard. A lot of people run up to the top deck to investigate what’s going on. Then a bunch of giant rocks begin to rain on the ship. The giant granite rock rain stops and the top deck is loaded with boulders while the ship’s communication and navigational devices are damaged.

Howard, Beverly, Paul, and Winda take refuge on one of the boulders on the top deck while Paul mentions that it’s like something out of the Bob Dylan song “Everybody Must Get Stoned.” Winda sees a bell-shaped island that suddenly comes up in the distance. A loud “BONG!” noise emanates from the island, which causes people to cover their ears. Suddenly the rock that they are on splits into two. A concrete swan emerges (like a baby bird emerges from an egg) and starts to fly while Beverly happens to be touching it. Howard grabs on to Beverly’s legs and the two of them are carried aloft by the concrete swan then dropped on to the island. However they soon discover that the swan had dropped them off into quicksand and they start to sink.

Suddenly the bonging sound starts again and some strange mutant creatures who say only “Neez!” emerge from the nearby bushes. They rescue Beverly while a mutant who’s a hybrid of human and duck (who seems capable to saying more than just “Neez!”) rescues Howard.

Beverly and Howard hears more bonging sounds until they meet the newest ludicrous villain to appear in the comic book series: a bell-headed man named Doctor Bong.

Topical 1970’s References: There’s a mention of the 1970’s Kiss hit “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

There’s also a reference to Bob Dylan’s 1970’s hit “Everybody Must Get Stoned.”

The Bottom Line: This issue is a definitely hilarious from Howard pleasuring the sea serpent to Howard being served duck l’orange to the first appearance of Doctor Bong. This issue is the start of another story arc that runs throughout the rest of the original color comic book series.

These issues were reprinted in Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 1, which can be purchased online at AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepository, Google Play, Half.com, IndieBound, Indigo, 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

I recently appeared on the first episode of a new YouTube series called C.H.A.O.S. (Cartoons, Hobbies, and Other Stuff). I was talking about my memories of the McDonaldland commercials that the TV networks used to air on Saturday mornings between the cartoons. Here’s the episode in question. For those of you who only care about what I have to say, I can be found just past the 7 minute mark. But it’s worth seeing the whole thing since it has a runtime of just a little over 9 minutes.

Filming the interview was no big deal. Here’s a photo I took of the behind the scenes during the making of that video. The person on the left is George Kochell, who was also interviewed in that video, and the person holding the video camera is the series’ director/editor Ola Betiku.

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One fringe benefit of getting involved with that first episode is that a bunch of Happy Meal toys were purchased especially for this video shoot, which you can see in the above photo. The toys were based on the characters from the Angry Birds video game and they were released in conjunction with the release of the Angry Birds movie. It was the first week of the Angry Birds Happy Meal toys so the local McDonald’s gave away the red bird. We looked at the red bird toys and noticed that there was an on/off switch in the back but we couldn’t figure out what the bird did when the switch was flipped on. Filming went on despite not being able to figure out the red bird toy. When filming was finished for the day (it was cut short due to the fact that it was a sweltering hot day) I was given one of the red bird toys along with some wrapped apple slices and one of the small apple juice boxes (the latter two were from the Happy Meals).

It was only after everyone else had left and I took a closer look at the red bird did I figure out that you had to not only turn the switch on in the bird’s back but also press down on the feathers on top of the bird’s head in order to get any kind of action. I filmed a short video of me playing with that bird and I uploaded it on Facebook. A few hours later, when it was a bit darker, I shot the same toy indoors because it showed up better in the dark. I shot another short video and uploaded it on Facebook as well. I’ve recently combined the two videos together into one minute-long video and uploaded it on to YouTube. Enjoy!

Passover

Free Tutorials

For those who have paper maps gathering dust because you’re using your smartphone’s Maps app instead, here are 16 Crafty DIY Projects That Will Help You Recycle Old Maps.

Browse other free tutorials previously mentioned in this blog (along with pictures) right here.

Miscellaneous Links

I already wrote at length about the reactions of the fans of controversial trophy hunter and college cheerleader Kendall Jones regarding my parody art. I found this video from Erin Janus where she refutes the claims that Jones has made regarding her hunts (such as Jones is promoting conservation by killing lions and other African beasts for sport) and she backs her points up with facts.

Back in the 1990’s there was an infamous lawsuit where a woman sued McDonald’s because of a cup of coffee spilled in her lap and she received a settlement. For years that lawsuit was derided in the media as an example of a frivolous lawsuit and how Americans have become more and more lawsuit happy as people rush to the courtrooms over minor trivial matters that shouldn’t even require a judge in the first place. Many comedians had a field day with that one as they told jokes about that lawsuit. It turns out that this lawsuit wasn’t quite as frivolous as was popularly assumed. The woman suffered third-degree burns on her skin and she needed skin grafts. She only sued McDonald’s because she needed help in paying her medical bills. The full story behind the lawsuit can be found here.

It’s the wedding of the year as Joel Burger will soon marry Ashley King. Of course Burger King is helping to pay for this wedding so the couple won’t have to worry about going into debt as the minister asks “Do you, Mr. Burger, take Ms. King to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

From Hats To Pants And Other Outfits, 22 Hilarious And Ugly Knitting Fails proves that just because, theoretically, you can knit just about anything out of yarn doesn’t mean that you should.

Spain recently passed the National Security Act, which critics claim is totally draconian. Some tech-savvy Spaniards responded by holding a first-ever hologram protest, which is a pretty cool idea regardless of where you stand politically.

If you’re looking for unique reasonably-priced one-of-a-kind art that doesn’t take up a lot of space in your home, I have this piece currently on sale in my Etsy shop.
Skull Art 8
This art is very small so it’s perfect for people with limited display space. It’s also the ideal gift for people who are into skulls. For more information about this piece, read the post I originally wrote on October 22, 2010. You can order this skull art right here.

One Saturday I went to two events in one day. I just wanted to have some light-hearted fun in the wake of my recent appearance in divorce court just three days earlier so I packed my Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera and rode on the Metro. There are a few photos I posted that are definitely not safe for work but they are placed towards the end of this entry. (The rest of the photos are all-ages friendly.)

First, I attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival in Washington, DC. Sakura Matsuri is the event that formally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. You know that you are at a Metro stop that’s closest to the festival because you’ll see people in costume like the ones in the next two photos.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 13, 2013
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The Sakura Matsuri is usually very crowded and 2013 was no exception. I arrived late in the afternoon (just a couple of hours before it closed) and there were still plenty of people around. The weather was a warm sunny day as people walked around the festival just a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol.

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The next photo show the official art for this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, which was available for sale on posters and t-shirts.

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The cherry blossom trees in the Baltimore-Washington region were past their blooming peak on the day of the Sakura Matsuri but the street festival had plenty of cherry blossom flowers made from glass, paper, and other artificial materials.

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There were some special guests at the Sakura Matsuri, such as NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata and his racing car.

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There was plenty of live entertainment provided by performers from Japan.

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There was a variety of things to do or experience, such as live entertainment and hands-on demonstrations of video games like Dance Dance Revolution.

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The crowdest booths were the ones serving food and drink. (Naturally.) The next two photos are of the non-food booths that were the most crowded. One was devoted to providing free hair styling for men while the other was a McDonald’s booth that was giving away free tote bags.

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There were all kinds of Japanese imported products that one could purchase including candy, snacks, plushies, kitchen gadgets, dolls, action figures, and clothes. Some products were based on traditional crafts and images while others were based on characters in anime, manga, video games, and even Disney movies. In short, there was a little something for everyone.

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Like previous years, the highlight of the Sakura Matsuri are the numerous cosplayers at the event. Many of them created their own costumes from scratch. The hard work and creativity involved in making these costumes are astounding.

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When the festival began to show signs of closing down, I hopped back on the Metro to the Rosslyn Metro station. I decided to check out another special event that was being held. The Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia was the venue for a special party to celebrate Yuri’s Night. When I first learned about it, I thought about my ex-husband because he works at NASA and it was through him that I first learned about the existence of Yuri’s Night

I also had to make a difficult decision for the evening of April 13. Someone from my support group for people who are separated or divorced was throwing a party at her home complete with a bonfire and I got this notice about the Yuri’s Night event. I ultimately decided to go to the Yuri’s Night event because the e-mail I received sounded really promising. There would be a bunch of people dressed as robots. There would be a burlesque performance. There would be a couple of dances. There would be a robot-themed art exhibit. There would be a special sale of smaller science fiction-themed works of art done by local artists that one can buy that night and carry home. There would be continuous showings of cheesy science fiction movies from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I got seduced by the promised glitz and I decided to go there instead of the other party.

In retrospect I have to admit that there are times when I wished I had gone to the other party instead. That’s because I didn’t know anyone at the Yuri’s Night event while many of the other attendees went with their friends and socialized at times. While the shows and bands were pretty awesome, I felt lonely in a crowd. So my big lesson in my still relatively new foray into the single life is that it’s better to go to a less-splashy event where I knew people than to go to a splashy event like Yuri’s Night where I didn’t know anyone. From now on, if there are any scheduling conflicts between a splashy event and a less-splashy event where I know my friends would be there, I’ll pick the latter. (The only exception to that rule will be if I know in advance that my ex-husband and his girlfriend are going to the same party where I know my friends would be there.)

At least the Yuri’s Night event at the Artisphere wasn’t a total bust for me. There were plenty of interesting stuff for me to photograph, starting with the skyline of late afternoon Arlington.

Yuri's Night, The Artisphere, Arlington, Virginia, April 13, 2013

There were plenty of signs pointing to the venue of Yuri’s Night.

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There were also plenty of tulips and other spring flowers already in bloom.

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But then I came across other flower patches that surrounded tree trunks that were covered in colorful crocheted pieces.

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I began to notice that there were tree trunks covered in these crocheted pieces.

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As I walked around the area, I found crocheted pieces hung and strung everywhere.

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I walked around until I came to this giant metal sculpture that’s in the middle of a median strip where I found the culprits responsible for hanging the crocheted pieces everywhere. A group of people were busy trying to cover both the sculpture and the surrounding garden with as many crocheted pieces as possible before sunset.

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I walked around the streets of Arlington to kill some time before the start of Yuri’s Night at the Artisphere. I arrived at the event just in time for the start. The Atomic Mosquitos played a set while scenes from cheesy 1950’s era science fiction movies played in the background.

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Once the performance ended we were ushered out into a general area where we had a choice of either socializing or checking out the activities that were going on.

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There was this trivia contest that used Rock Em Sock Em Robots. Basically someone would ask prospective contests a single trivia question related to science, space, science fiction, Yuri Gagarin, or similar topics. The first two people to get the right answer would then battle each other using Rock Em Sock Em Robots. It was a delightfully silly contest that was also broadcast on a wall so people wouldn’t have to crowd around the Rock Em Sock Em Robots to see the entire action.

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In the Artisphere’s WIP Gallery there was a show featuring robot art called Voltron’s Corpse that will be on display through May 4. This particular exhibit has gotten the attention of Wired magazine.

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There were vendor tables set up that sold smaller space-themed arts and crafts that people could purchase and carry home with them.

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There was an I Dream of Jeannie-themed kissing booth.

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Even though the event was opened only to adults over 21, there was a Moon Bounce House that anyone could use. (I saw people go in and out of it.)

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There were all kinds of eye candy at the Artisphere that night, which included not only funky decorations but also people who arrived in robot costumes.

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At one point there was another live performance by the band Dance for the Dying.

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There was also a burlesque show called "The Search for Drinkbot." That show was the most packed with standing room only crowds (which was exacerbated by the fact that there weren’t any chairs in the room where the show was held). It was a challenge to take pictures over people’s shoulders at times. There was a thin science-fiction plot but one didn’t need to follow that story to enjoy the entertainment. Some of the photos I took at that show are definitely NSFW.

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There was more to Yuri’s Night including another set by Dance for the Dying, the second part of "The Search for Drinkbot" burlesque show, continuous showings of various science fiction movies, a Celestial Costume Contest, another round of the Rock Em Sock Em Trivial Tournament, and a Lunar Dance Party. I ended up leaving at the relatively early time of 10 p.m. mainly because I was tired from going to the earlier Sakura Matsuri street festival and standing on my feet for the first part of the burlesque show. I also grew frustrated at seeing people socializing with each other and I felt left out because I didn’t know anyone at that event. (Which really made me regret not going to the other party with my friends from my weekly support group for people who are separated or divorced.) At least Yuri’s Night provided lots of eye candy and I got some pretty decent photos from that event.

Skull Art 7

Skull Art 7
Mixed-media (acrylic paint, computer graphics, and Shrinky Dinks plastic on canvas)
2.5 inches x 2.5 inches
6 cm x 6 cm

Skull Art 8

Skull Art 8
Mixed-media (acrylic paint, computer graphics, and Shrinky Dinks plastic on canvas)
2.5 inches x 2.5 inches
6 cm x 6 cm

Here are two more of the art pieces that will be on display at this upcoming art show in the near future. They are based on Mexican-style skulls that are displayed at the annual Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. With these two, I attempted a sly modern take on the skulls. Skull Art 7 features the most notorious line from the 1980’s film Wall Street in both Spanish ("La Avaricia es Buena") and English ("Greed is Good") and a bunch of logos from health insurance companies, Wall Street firms, and large banks. Skull Art 8 features logos from such well-known companies like ESPN, NBC, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Nike, CBS, ABC, Pepsi, Apple Computer, Starbucks, CNN, McDonald’s, Fox News, Twitter, and Google.

Each canvas was painted in a solid color in acrylic paint. I printed each skull out on special Shrinky Dinks plastic that was made for ink jet printers then baked it in an oven until it was small enough to fit on the canvas.

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