Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Year's Worth of Comic Book Banners

Last May I started making banners for a comic book message board that I'm a member of the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages Message Board. I'm a co-moderator there. :)

Anyway, as you will see, at first I didn't know what I was doing and could barely use Photoshop. But I am slowly learning.

The message board displays two banners each week, but because a number of other folks make banners too, I usually only get one banner up every other week. And, I tend to make a lot of banners so there is sometime a long gap in-between me making a banner and having it be seen.

Oh, the other thing that needs to be understood is that I post under the nickname of Paste Pot Pete. Why? I don't know. I've posted on comic book message board with that name for more than 12 years. If you know Marvel comics, Paste Pot Pete is a Fantastic Four villain from the early days so he invokes some of that Silver Age magic. And it's a silly name because well it sounds silly, but also because poor Pete, who changed his name to The Trapster, just got to be a lamer and a lamer villain until he hit rock bottom and became the only super-villain in history to be defeated by the Baxter Buildings security systems when the FF was out of town.


This is one of the first banners I made. Of course I would start with my own namesake. And this is sort of an important banner because I was so proud of the fact that the text from the cover had the second meaning of serving as a signature. And I haven’t been able to stop signing ever since!

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I’ve always wondered if this joke was too mean. I’m sure Gernot has no problems with the ladies. :) Gernot is my co-moderator and the guy who decides which banners go up each week.

Shane, a fellow banner maker, did a better take on the same image. My joke kind of falls flat. And I hate that font I was using on these early banners. I should pull a George Lucas and do special editions of the banners with a better font.


I really like this one, but again every time I look at it I want to change the font.

I think this is the first of my dialogue change banners so it’s a little primitive. I always love it when I can leave in some original dialogue. I think that makes it better somehow.

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This one I did when the Avengers movie came out but unfortunately it didn't make it onto the message board until the movie was old news.


I think the first thing I had them saying was Avengers Assemble! And then I was like “but they aren’t all Avengers?” so I changed it to Avengers and Defenders Assemble. But then I was like “But I don’t think they really ever call themselves the Defenders” And Avengers and No-Team Members Assemble was definitely not going to work so I just went with the name of the message board. Gernot yells at me if I send him a banner without GSBAMB on it and makes me redo it.

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This is a Special Edition of this banner. Originally it didn't have the cool green background, but I couldn't resist doing a little tweaking on some of the older banners as my skills improve. This banner has a mate that still hasn't been put on the message board.

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I still think this one is hilarious, but I might be the only one who does.


Splish Splash was written as a challenge. Murray the K said there was no way Bobby Darin could write a hit song that started “Splish Splash I was taking a bath,” so I couldn’t resist the challenge of getting the song on these panels. In the last panel I originally had Flash saying they were drunk but I toned it down to dizzy.


I don’t know if they come across but I put a couple of in jokes in this one. Ben talks about turning 50 that’s partially about the FF’s 50th birthday but also a dig against “Marvel Time” which keeps the heroes from aging. Then Spiderman claims he was under a rock for weeks. This is a reference to something I heard one time about if Spiderman’s powers were scientifically accurate one of his only powers would be to be able to go for weeks without eating.


This one is definitely my favorite. (And it ended up being voted the GSBAMB 2012 Banner of the Year) I think this one’s got it all! And I even incorporated some of the original dialogue.


This banner is part of a set. Maybe Gernot will use it’s mate one of these weeks. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more!


The first of my commentary banners, it’s fun to riff on the current goings on in comic books


I learned how to use the clone tool, but other than hurting my neck when I crane it to look at this thing vertically, it also drives me nuts that I didn’t completely blend the yellows together better on this one.

There are about another 20 banners I've made since then but a lot of them haven't hit the message board yet. So it might be a while before I have enough to make another post about them.

But never fear, I've also been making banners for The Classic Science Fiction Message Board, its Facebook page, and my own Facebook page. Sounds like a lot, but I always use the same banners in all three places. So I'll be putting those up on the blog too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mr. Independent

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Henry is getting more and more independent. He doesn't like to be fed anymore he likes to feed himself and he gets the food all over his face and clothes. We got him smocks the we use instead of bibs we call them "Straight-jackets." 

Henry is still just starting to talk, but he understands a lot. I can tell him to go get Ralph his stuffed animal or go get a puzzle piece or go get your blocks, or go get a book and he'll do it. 

Part of his morning routine is to watch Sesame Street while we get ready for work. We put him in his bouncer so he can't get into any trouble and now he doesn't want to watch TV unless he's in his bouncer. In the evening one time, Carol asked him if he wanted to see Murray (one of the characters from the show) and he went right over to his bouncer and started dragging it over to the TV.  Like I said, he seems to understand everything.

Here's some of the best pictures I took of Henry this month. 

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That's the sticker off of a banana, it says "Place sticker on forehead and smile." There's also some pictures of me with the sticker on my forehead. Back when I was a kid my brother would put those stickers on my forehead or his forehead. We were trendsetters. 

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Two toys are always better than one, right?

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It looks like he's doing some sort of "little stinker" face but what he's really doing is smelling. We play a game with him where we stiff his neck like we were dogs and so he goes to school and does that and probably confuses the heck out of his teachers.

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Henry has his very first fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie all over his face. I found chocolate around the apartment for the rest of the day, he seemed to have touched everything with those chocolate fingers before we got a chance to clean him up. Never giving him a cookie like that again unless he's in his high chair

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This is the cheese from raviolis all over his face in these last two shots. In the second one it looks like he's about to pay some of our bills. How long is it before he can get a job?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thoughts on "Imzadi"

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"Imzadi" by Peter David is a novel that explores the complex relationship between Star Trek: The Next Generation characters Will Riker and Deanna Troi.

It was written while TNG was still on so it contradicts some of the facts we learn as the series progresses.

For TNG fans one of the big questions has always been what exactly happened between Troi and Riker? I mean we know they had a romance on Betazed when they were young, but we never learn any of the details.

David makes a great attempt at filling in the details, but unfortunately in a way he never really had a chance, did he? I mean after so many years of wondering TNG fans have inevitably come up with their own version of Riker and Troi’s romance and no two people’s ideas will be exactly the same.

David portrays Riker the young officer as a smart up and comer, moving up through the ranks quickly. He is a skirt-chaser, but he respects everyone he is with. He doesn’t want to be tied down because his primary goal is his career. By the end of their romance, Troi has taught Will to appreciate the spiritual and emotional side of romance instead of just the physical. David’s portrayal of Riker seems to have hit the nail on the head.

On the other hand, David’s portrayal of Troi seemed way off the mark. Troi is portrayed as an over-intellectualized psychology major who has never had a relationship with a man because of the Catch-22 of expecting a deep spiritual and emotional connection with a lover, but feeling that any man is out to get one thing. In the romance department she is on her way to being an old maid librarian. She is also wrapped around her mother Lwaxana’s little finger. Lwaxana has prepared her all her life to be her successor in the aristocratic realm of Betazed. Troi basically has never even considered doing anything else. Riker asks her what she’ll do with her psychology degree and she says nothing, that she’s the heir to the Fifth House of Betazed and that her life is mapped out. Troi is changed a lot by her relationship with Riker. She learns that romance isn’t this perfect storybook thing and that having the spiritual, emotional and physical connection is best, but that even just having the physical connection has it’s merits. She also gains the courage to defy her mother and starts down the path that will later lead her to go into Starfleet.

I thought it was kind of cliché that Troi is portrayed as this schoolmarm type who only finds herself through her relationship with Riker. I’ll be the first to admit that Troi isn’t the greatest TNG character. One of the worst stigmas a TNG episode can have is that it’s a “Troi-episode.” But I do like a couple of things about Troi. One, I like that she is a Starfleet officer, that she went through all the same training as everyone else and yet she is still always able to give an outsider’s perspective. You might say she never drank the Starfleet Kool-aid. And the second thing that I like about Troi is that she understands herself. She is comfortable in her own skin. She is comfortable with her body. Comfortable with how others perceive her. If she encounters a man she likes, she pursues him. She is confident in her abilities and confident that if she puts herself out there emotionally and physically that she can handle herself even if things go bad. Why is it that David felt the need to say that it was Riker who gave Troi this confidence? That it wasn’t present already when they met?

I think it would have been a more effective novel if both characters had met each other as fully formed personalities. Or, the converse would have been that both characters were unformed and were formed by each other. This would have been more even. Will’s growth could have been that his career wasn’t going well and Troi gave him more confidence. But to write that Troi is the only one changed by the relationship is really sexist!

Also, the romance they shared in the novel was too short lived. Basically, they meet, court each other, have an adventure, consummate the relationship, and then break up soon afterwards. The novel suggests they are both deeply changed by the romance, but it seems like too short an affair to change two people so much and bind them together for the rest of their lives.


There is a great debate in the novel about whether it is right to travel back in time and save Troi. Riker who has been haunted by Troi’s death for 40 years believes his actions are justified because Troi was killed by a poison that hadn’t been developed at the time of her death. Evidence that time travel may have already been involved. Data argues that history must be preserved or it would undo the last 40 years. Data goes so far as attempting to kill Troi in the past himself to correct history. Stirring stuff!

…End of Spoilers

I also felt like the book suffers because of its complete focus on Riker and Troi. There are supporting roles for Data, Wesley as an adult, and Lwaxana, but the rest of the cast only comes in the novel at the end. When I got to read about Picard, Worf and briefly Geordi, it was a treat and I felt like even though it would have further complicated the story, it could have benefited from being framed by a typical TNG story. The framework was already there as the novel’s climax takes place during the peace conference on the Enterprise.

I wanted to briefly mention the creation of Riker and Troi’s characters and how it’s always fascinated me that they were modeled after Willard Decker and Ilia from Star Trek the Motion Picture. Gene Roddenberry apparently liked the characters so much he was originally going to use them in Star Trek Phase II (The show in between Original Trek and TNG that never got through the planning stages) and then they were used in Star Trek the Motion Picture, and then when TNG was being developed he slipped the characters in again. I guess we should be happy he didn’t try to get Marina Sirtis to shave her head.

I’ve often wondered how close Troi came to being dropped as a character. She wasn’t in 4 episodes in a row during the first season. The writers thought she was the hardest character to write for, but she managed to hang on. Maybe it had something to do with Denise Crosby leaving the show halfway through the season and the other female cast member Gates McFadden also on the way out. I mean can you imagine TNG with Diana Muldaur’s Dr. Pulaski as the only female lead? The show never would have made it past the second season!

Riker always seemed redundant. Picard, after all, was sort of a diplomat, but still was an effective fighter of both space battles and fist cuffs when pushed. So he didn’t really need Riker. The only area where he needed Riker was to manage the crew since Picard had a sort of stand-offish approach to being the Captain. But as much as the series didn’t need a second hero, there is just something about Jonathan Frake’s portrayal that is so charming. You can’t help but like Riker, so you don’t mind that he’s just window dressing, just another warm body filling a chair and speaking technobabble. To prove he is redundant, name a situation where Picard and Riker would captain the Enterprise differently? They are practically interchangeable! Contrast that to Kirk and Spock who never looked at a single situation the same way.