Monday, August 30, 2010

*Shakes Fist* Batiuk!!!!

Has anybody been paying attention to Crankshaft the last week or so?  No?  Don't feel bad.  I didn't really pay attention either except when I saw this...

Does that look familiar?

How about this?

90-year-old Crankshaft looks exactly like Beanball Mulligan or whatever his name is.  If it wasn't for the red coat and hat and a different nose I would've said that wasn't a 90-year-old Crankshaft at all.  I was hoping for a decent story about Crankshaft not wanting to grow old alone and hated but come today, we get this:


Edit: Removed dead image links. I was unable to access the comics from the dates the original images were so you will just have to imagine what they looked like. (5/13/11)

Harter Union: Part Six, Chapters 6 & 7

Aaron, Nathan, Heather, Wendy, and Kepler came into the Union and stood in the doorway of my office. I had been trying to get some work done before my last day and I hadn’t been home since Melissa rejected my proposal and that was two days ago.

“You have to go home sometime,” Nathan said.

“Only to pack up my stuff. I have to get this work done anyway because you can’t trust Sam with anything because he…”

“Is the best replacement for you. Go home, Jefferson,” said Heather.

“I can’t Heather. If I see her face, I’ll want to kiss it and beg it to take me back,” I said putting away my papers and writing utensils. “You guys obviously didn’t come down here just to try to get me to go home so what’s up?”

“We’re gonna miss you, Bosco,” Kepler blurted out. Everyone looked at him. I stood up and walked over to the group. I hugged Heather and clapped Kepler on the back.

I fished the set of keys out of my pocket and unlocked Darrell’s office. “What are you doing, Jeff?” asked Wendy.

“Darrell has a Polaroid camera in here so I’m gonna take a picture,” I answered and opened Darrell’s top desk drawer. I pulled out a camera and we all went back out into my office. I fiddled with the timer and we all got huddled together and the picture took. “I want to thank you guys for making me belong. You are my family and I will never forget you.”

“We love you, Jefferson,” Heather hugged me again and then everyone else moved in for a group hug. In the middle of our hug, the phone rang.

“That’s probably the schmaltz police,” I said walking over to my desk. “Hello?”

“Hey, I heard you’re leaving Baldwin. Going to that Big, bad Apple,” said the voice on the other end.

“Yep, that’s right. Who is this?” I asked.

“This is Emily and I want to call you on that favor you owe me.”

I looked at the group and apologized. “I’m sorry, guys, I got to take this. I’ll see you all tomorrow though.” Everyone said their good-byes, left and I went back to talking with Emily. “That favor was for keeping quiet about Heather and me and since everybody now knows about that…”

“Favors are non-negotiable so you still owe me.”

“Okay, fine. What is it?” I laughed.

“Sleep with me.”

“What? Don’t you have a boyfriend?”

“Stop making excuses, Jeff. This is a one-time offer so take it or leave it. What’s your decision?”

Emily and I were silent on both our ends as I tried to decide what to do.

Chapter Seven
Sam, Aaron, Wendy, Heather, Katie, Alyson, Nathan, Kepler, Wanda and I were all sitting around a booth in the Café on my last day here. My flight left at 3:45 and it was now eleven in the morning. “I have to get going guys since I have to go through all that security crap.”

“Jeff, can I talk to you in private?” Wendy asked, sliding out of the booth and pulling my arm.

“Yeah, sure,” I slid out of the booth and Wendy and I went outside and stood on the steps. “What’s up?”

“Remember when you took me to the Old Castle Dance?” she asked.

“Of course. It was one of the best nights of my life. Why?” I smiled.

“To me that was the best night of my life and I want to thank you again for that incredible evening and what makes it even more special is that no one else knows about it,” Wendy teared up and started to open the door to the Café.

I stopped Wendy from leaving but just looked at her. I reached over and brushed some hair behind her ear. She opened the door and we went inside. “Look, I’m glad you all love me and want to stay but I need to, nay, want to leave. So as much as it pains me to do so, I must take my leave. Are you ready, Heather?” I asked.

“We understand, Jefferson. Come on, we’ll go,” Heather got up and took my hand.

“Oh, wait. Melissa wanted me to give you this to read on the plane or something,” Sam handed me a piece of paper that was folded over.

“Thank you. Look, you guys have been wonderful. I love you all,” Wendy and Kepler stood up to hug me and I shook the guys’ hands. I put my arm around Heather and led her away from the group. “Take me to KCI, Jeeves.”

Heather and I left Baldwin in my Jimmy with Heather driving. The radio was playing softly but I couldn’t make out the song. “So what does Melissa have to say?”

“I didn’t even open the note,” I unfolded the paper and read over it.

“Read it out loud, you jerk!”

“’Dear Jeff, I am sorry that I wasn’t completely honest with you. You deserve someone who can offer you what I can’t. I cannot have children and I learned that shortly after you proposed to me the first time but I didn’t tell you. I do love you but you need someone who can offer you a chance at a happy family and I cannot offer you that. I do apologize and I wish you all the luck and happiness in New York. Love, Pussycat.’”

“Melissa is barren?” Heather was stunned.

“I can’t believe she put us through all that grief and heartache because of that,” I said folding up the paper and slipping it into my pocket. “That wasn’t important to me and we would’ve had the rest of our lives to show the world how much we loved each other.”

“It was important to her and I’m glad she finally told you what was wrong,” Heather said.

“I was seriously hoping it was a brain affliction.”

“I know.”

Heather and I stood in front of the security gate and held each other. “This is it,” Heather said with her voice quavering.

“We promised no crying,” I said looking down at Heather.

“I have to admit that I want you to stay and be my boyfriend and…” she sighed and we looked into each other’s eyes. She leaned up, closed her eyes and tilted her lips toward mine. I took hold of her chin and turned her away from me. “What’s that for?”

“I want to remember you lying next to me in bed after making love with your Mona Lisa smile, not as some failed attempt at keeping me here.”

“Flight 103 from Kansas City to JFK-New York now boarding,” a woman announced over the PA system.

I gave Heather one final hug and headed down the long corridor. She leaned against the wall and watched me leave. She had tears rolling down her face as she waved in my direction. “And off you go…” she said, her voice cracking.

I never looked back.

Part Seven begins. We meet Jeff's new girlfriend and are introduced to his new friends. Jeff also finishes his first book.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

#221: The Lawrence Massacre and the Kents

At the dawn of August 21, 1863, William Quantrill and between 300 and 400 riders descended on Lawrence, Kansas from Mount Oread. Over the course of four hours, they killed between 185 and 200 men and boys, burned one out of four buildings including all but two businesses and looted the banks before heading south out of town. Quantrill's raiders ended up burning the town of Brooklyn (it was never rebuilt) and their last attack was on Abraham Rothrock, a Dunkard Minister. Rothrock was shot and died from his wounds seven years later in 1870. The raiders were then intercepted by Union soldiers riding on the Leavenworth-Ft. Scott Trail near Prairie City but were able to escape. It's opined that if those Union soldiers hadn't attacked Quantrill and his men then the raiders would've went east toward Prairie City and Palmyra-Baldwin City, possibly destroying them thus completely altering the history of Douglas County.A print of the Lawrence Massacre that was published in Harper's Weekly in September 1863.These signs, erected by the students of Vinland Elementary, line East 1400 Road leaving Lawrence and mark the route Quantrill took to escape. The route jogs to the east at the Douglas-Franklin County line.Abraham and Mary Rothrock gravestone in Brumbaugh Cemetery at the curve of East 1452 Road.The only indication Brooklyn, Kansas ever existed. This sign was erected by the Baldwin City Santa Fe Trail Historical Society in the 1980s. Other similar markers were placed at Black Jack, Signal Oak, Trail Park, Willow Springs, Globe and Baden.

Smallville was first established as Superman's hometown in 1949 but it wasn't until the 1978 movie Superman that it was placed in Kansas and since then, Smallville has routinely been placed somewhere in Kansas. What's interesting is that even though Smallville was located in Kansas, details of its history were never established. Especially parts dealing with the Bleeding Kansas era between 1854 and 1861--most of this can be attributed to writer and artist interpretations of Smallville being out in western Kansas where places weren't settled until 1870s or 1880s. In the novel "It's Superman!", which is set in 1938, Smallville is located along U.S. Highway 75 in Osage County making it part of the Topeka Metropolitan Area. In the TV series, Smallville, the town is located in fictional Lowell County, three hours from Metropolis which is shown as being located where Kansas City is. The location of Metropolis at least explains why Lawrence or the University of Kansas has never been mentioned.

Lawrence was founded in 1854 by the New England Emigration Aid Company which was established by Eli Thayer to send people from Massachusetts to Kansas so Kansas could become a free-state. The Emigration Aid Company also helped establish towns such as Manhattan, Topeka and Osawatomie. Lawrence was promptly burned in 1856 by the Douglas County Sheriff, Samuel Jones, who supported the Confederates and again in 1863 by Quantrill. The raid by Quantrill was by far the worst because most boys and men were slaughtered--although Quantrill's team was searching for Senator James Lane-who escaped by hiding in a ravine. Lawrence was rebuilt and has a population estimated at around 90,000, the University of Kansas was established in 1865 and Lawrence has tended to keep the liberal ways its ancestors had even as Kansas has remained staunchly conservative.

The Kents was published between August 1997 and July 1998 to relatively little fanfare but it chronicles Jonathan Kent's ancestors settling in Kansas. The first ones, Silas and his sons Nathaniel and Jebediah, settle in Lawrence and as the Civil War begins, the brothers are torn apart like many brothers were.

The Kents #1 (Aug. 1997)
Written by John Ostrander
Penciled by Timothy Truman
Inked by Michael Bair
Colors by Carla FeenyLettered by Bill Oakley

Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
All characters and stories are owned and trademark DC Comics. (C)1997 All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Harter Union: Part Six, Chapter 5

“How come whenever I take a shower with someone, I come out feeling dirtier than when I went in?” I asked coming out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel.

“It’s probably because of what we did in the shower,” Melissa laughed. “So was last night everything you expected?”

“And more,” I hugged her and kissed her neck. “I have something to tell you.”

“Why does this seem like bad news?”

“No, no. It’s good news. Great news actually but I’m not sure how you’ll take it.”

“What is it?” Melissa asked.

“How about we put on some clothes and then I tell you. All right?”

“That seems fair,” she smiled.

Nathan and Stephanie entered the Union together and rounded the corridor past Sam’s office and into the kitchen. Wendy, Wanda, Aaron, Sam and Katie stopped what they were doing and looked at the couple. Nathan quickly waved and the two scuttled to the dining room. “And those stares are because Alyson left me!”

“Or it might be because they all know that we were having an affair,” Stephanie said. “And I want to talk to you about that. It was fun being together at first because we were trying to hide it from co-workers, friends and Alyson but now, I feel that if we continue what we’re doing, it’ll grow old and what happened between you and Alyson will happen to us.”

“What? It doesn’t have to! We’ve only just begun. We can just have some flings then after a couple of months we can breakup,” Nathan stammered.

“Eh, the notion of Alyson actually catching was a lot better than the sex ever was so…”

“What are you saying? Are you leaving me?”

“Yes. I’m glad you’re taking this well. Trust me, this will be best for both of us,” Stephanie kissed Nathan one last time on the cheek and she left the dining room and headed for the restroom.

Nathan stood in front of the soda machines, completely still and his mouth agape. Sam came out of the kitchen with a red cup and filled it with Pibb. He looked at Nathan a couple of times and then finally spoke, “She break up with you?”


“She could’ve at least waited a week,” Sam said taking a sip of his Pibb. “Oh, well,” he shrugged.

“Oh, well? My girlfriend just broke up with me one day after my fiancée breaks up with me!” Nathan shrieked.

“Come into the kitchen with me. Now, I haven’t been here very long but everyone believes that you were a lot cooler before you were dating either girl. Right, guys?” asked Sam when he walked into the kitchen.

Everyone agreed and Nathan leaned against the counter. “Thanks, guys. Hey, does anyone know what this employee meeting with Jeff is about?”

“No but he’ll be here about one. Him and Melissa got a hotel room last night so Jeff’ll probably be in a really good mood,” Sam sat his cup down and resumed slicing carrots.

“Look, Nathan, we all like you and, to a point, Alyson but the two of you together was nearly unbearable. We wanted to kill the both of you. Well, at least her,” Katie revealed.

“I’m her best friend and roommate and even I loved it when she never came home,” Wendy said. “And Stephanie just seemed like a little slut.”

“Guys, I’m right here,” Stephanie said, just entering the kitchen.

“Not like we care,” said Sam.

Melissa and I stood in front of the hotel room and kissed. We parted and Melissa smiled at me. “So what’s this surprise you have?”

“Well, it’s kind of a two-part surprise. I put back in my application and resume at Manhattan-Rooks Publishing, the company in New York I had to reject after becoming stranded in Baldwin and I ended up getting rehired for the same job but for more money,” I said. “I’m moving to New York so what I guess I’m saying is that I’ll be making a lot more money and I’ll be able to support both of us…” I got down on one knee and took out a ring box. “Melissa, my little Pussycat, will you marry me?” I took out the ring and placed it on her finger. I smiled at her and kissed her hand. “Come with me to New York and we can finally be together and maybe start that family we’ve been talking about.”

Melissa took her hand back and began crying uncontrollably. She took off the ring and gave it back to me. “I can’t. I can’t do this, damn it!” she grabbed her bag and began leaving the hotel room.

“Wait! What’s going on? Please tell me.”

“I want to marry you but I don’t want to do the ‘family’ thing. I can’t.”

“We don’t have to start immediately. We can wait a year or so to get settled in. As long as we’re together, nothing is impossible,” I didn’t want to resort to begging but was leaning toward it.

“I am so sorry,” Melissa cried as she rubbed my cheek. “I never should’ve tracked you down or slept with you or went back out with you. I am so sorry I played with your feelings.”

“What are you talking about? Why aren’t you going to marry me?”

“I—I can’t tell you. Not right now and…and you deserve an answer but I don’t have one for you. I’m so sorry,” Melissa left the hotel room and ran off to the elevator. I slowly followed her and we had a long, silent journey back to Baldwin.

I was in my office, having a meeting with the staff which was everyone but the new hires and Melissa. “So this is going to be my last week here,” I revealed and everyone started to converse amongst themselves.

“What job is it?” asked Wanda.

“It’s an editing position for a publishing company in New York. It was the job I was leaving for before I became stranded here.”

“What about Melissa?” asked Alyson.

“As far as I know, she’s staying in Kansas.”

“I thought you were going to propose to her,” said Heather.

“I did and she said ‘no’.”

“Well, did she give you a reason?” Heather demanded.

“She said she wanted to but couldn’t. Look, guys…” I tried to interrupt everyone but my voice was drowned out.

“Maybe she was just overwhelmed with the dinner and the hotel so she kind of freaked,” Wendy tried to convince me.

“No, no! Don’t you people get it?” I gruffly stood up and slammed my hands down on my desk. “It’s a pattern with me. The Teflon Kid. Lots of chicks, nothing sticks. I lose! I get nothing! Good day, sir!” I shouted and the look on my face began to disperse the crowd in my office.

“If it makes you feel any better, I would’ve said yes Jefferson,” Heather said as she was the last one to leave my office. I sat back down and finished ordering more pants for the Café before leaving for the Café to fix me something to eat.

Jeff and Melissa break up and he leaves Baldwin.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Laugh Comics Digest #32, Part Two

It's time for part two of Laugh Comics Digest #32 from 1981. My very first Archie digest and the second oldest one I have--the oldest is Joke Book Comics Digest Annual #2 from 1978. This week we have some Reggie, Josie and Fauntleroy so let's dive right in.

Katy Keene was a model/actress/singer created in 1945. She went out of use in the 1960s until coming back in the 1980s thanks to devoted fans. Archie Comics relaunched Katy in 2005 by making her a teenager and an aspiring model.

Cosmo the Merry Martian was created in 1958 and had his own comic book for only six issue before it was canceled and Cosmo faded into obscurity.

Fauntleroy (the little white duck in this story) is the nephew of Super Duck--an amalgam of Superman and Donald Duck although after a while the superhero aspect was dropped in favor of wacky hijinks.

Next week it's a POB/Thursday Comics entry as we commemorate the 147th anniversary of Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence, Kansas and showcase The Kents #1 which takes place in Lawrence.