Submerged “Underwater” : Deciphering Chester Brown’s Abandoned Opus

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Unfinished works have dotted the comic-book landscape probably for as long as the medium has existed — how many Golden Age characters were one-off experiments, never to return? — but more often than not in recent years, good old-fashioned cancellation was the most common reason stories were either never concluded, or wrapped up in considerably truncated fashion. For years, of course, the “Holy Grail” of incomplete stories was Kirby’s Fourth World saga, but eventually Jack was able to give readers a finale of sorts with The Hunger Dogs — even if it was considerably different to whatever he would have produced had his books been allowed to lead their natural “life spans” — but the advent of creator-owned titles has given rise to a different type of “undone” comic : those that are abandoned not by corporate-dictated necessity, but by choice.

Probably the most (in)famous of these is Alan…

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A Movie A Day #237: Detention (2003, directed by Sidney J. Furie)

It’s Die Hard in a school!

A group of gun-wielding drug runners have broken into Hamilton High so that they can use it as the base of operations for a huge drug deal.  With the Vice President scheduled to be traveling through town that weekend, they figure that the school will be deserted and no one will be paying attention to what’s going on.  What they failed to consider is that not every student goes home after the final bell rings.  One paraplegic student is still in the library, doing research.  Two more are in the auditorium, getting high.  There’s even a few “bad” kids in detention, including one of whom is pregnant.  Even worse, for the drug dealers, is that Sam Decker (Dolph Lundgren!) is in charge of detention.  He may teach phys ed and history but before he decided to help broaden young minds, Sam was an army ranger.

Of all of the performers who starred in direct-to-video action movies in the 90s and early aughts, Dolph Lundgren was the best actor.  When considering that his competition largely came from Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme, that may sound like damning with faint praise but the fact that Lundgren could actually memorize his lines and hit his marks actually did make a difference.  It is easy to imagine Detention with Lundgren and the results are not pretty.  Steven Seagal would have been too busy whispering his lines and waiting for his stunt double to show up.  Jean-Claude Van Damme would have gotten too caught up in doing the splits to waste his time worrying about the kids trapped in the auditorium.  Not Lundgren, though.  Dolph Lundgren’s too busy getting shit done to worry about any of that.

Though the action sequences are top notch, Detention would work better if the villains were Lundgren’s equal but they’re not.  One reason why Die Hard worked was because Alan Rickman and his men always seemed like they were capable of killing Bruce Willis.  In Detention, the main villains are three Hungarian punks and a flamboyant American, Chester Lamb (Alex Karzis), and none of them seem like they could even carry Dolph Lundgren’s shoes, much less defeat him in a combat situation.  Scenes where Chester pretends to be an innocent bystander seem like they were included to remind us of the first meeting between Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis in Die Hard but Chester Lamb is no Hans Gruber.  There is just no way that Dolph Lundgren is going to lose to someone named Chester Lamb.

Even with the underwhelming villains, Detention is a gloriously stupid action movie that is entertaining because Lundgren gives it his all.

Concrete Jungle: REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER (United Artists 1975)

cracked rear viewer

REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER usually gets lumped in with the plethora of 70’s cop films, but I viewed it as a neo-noir. It’s structure tells the tale mainly in flashback, from the participating character’s differing perspective, and is dark as hell. I’m sure co-screenwriters Abby Mann and Ernest Tidyman were well aware of what they were doing: both men were former Oscar winners (Mann for JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG, Tidyman for THE FRENCH CONNECTION   ) familiar with the conventions of the genre. The solid cast features a powerhouse collection of 70’s character actors, led by Michael Moriarty’s patented over-the-edge performance as protagonist Bo Lockley.

Lockley is a young, idealistic cop caught up in circumstances beyond his control, snaring him in an inescapable downward spiral. The film opens with a pair of New York City detectives discovering the body of a young woman, who turns out to be one of their own, an undercover…

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Music Video of the Day: Prince Charming by Adam & The Ants (1981, dir. Mike Mansfield & Adam Ant)

From the book, I Want My MTV:

Steven Levy, writing in Rolling Stone, unfavorably compared “superficial, easy-to-swallow” acts such as Adam Ant to Bob Dylan.

You’d think having discovered Einstein’s brain in 1978 would have made him more open-minded. No really, he did. It’s worth reading his story about it.

He said some other things concerning MTV, which included quoting Dr. Thomas Radecki about the dangers of music videos. You might remember him as the guy who attacked the music video for Street Of Dreams by Rainbow because of the brainwashing psychiatrist, among other things. The guy who said people were killing themselves and others over D&D. He had his medical license revoked in 1992 because of conduct with a patient. More recently he was caught in a opiates scandal. Probably not the best source in hindsight.

Perhaps that’s why there is only one article on Rolling Stone’s website by Levy. Or they just thought the one on Steve Jobs was the only one worth putting up online.

He has gone on to do better things after the 80s–along with doing good things back then as well. He appears to have lightened up on his condemnation of MTV as early as 1992.

I just thought I’d include that since I find it hilarious to think that anyone ever thought up the idea to compare Adam Ant, or any similar act, to Bob Dylan. I don’t care if the context was commercialism using Adam Ant’s persona as a way of contrasting someone known for lyrics with someone known for their look in order to say that marketing had won out over the songs themselves. The comparison still makes me laugh.

So here’s a video that seems to imply that the Adam Ant persona is a combination of Clint Eastwood…

Alice Cooper…

Rudolph Valentino…

and Douglas Fairbanks (also Adam Ant’s character from the video for Stand And Deliver).

We get Diana Dors showing up as his fairy godmother, backed up by some guys who a year later would wear even less clothes for It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls.

Back to I Want My MTV:

Adam Ant: My strategy for making videos was sex, subversion, style, and humor.

I’d say he accomplished that here. I particularly like that we don’t get the typical ending of Cinderella. The change appears to be permanent–from someone who is pushed around and shy to someone that is confident being themselves. We never see him pair up with anyone. He stands alone because the point isn’t to find love based on shoe size. It’s finding yourself when you take out what other people think of you from the equation.

The video is listed as being directed by both Mike Mansfield and Adam Ant. Mansfield did a bunch of late-70s and early-80s music videos.

Stephanie Gluck, or Stephanie Coleman as it is on Wikipedia, was the one responsible for the Prince Charming dance. Wikipedia says that the dance was arranged to mean Pride, Courage, Humour, and Flair (in that order).

There’s an archive of a fan site that that has some additional information. I can’t confirm enough of it, so I just included the link. However, it is interesting to note that both it, and Wikipedia state that one of the characters that Adam Ant plays is Vito Corleone. That isn’t in here. I guess that was removed for some reason.

Adam Ant and Rolf Harris came to an arrangement over money because of the similarities between Harris’ song, War Canoe, and Prince Charming. I can hear it, but then again, you can listen to the Canoe Song, where Adam Ant says they both drew inspiration from, and hear the same similarities. They’re just not as strong. I can understand why they would come to an agreement over it.

Finally, after the way I began this post, I think it’s worth looking at these quotes–two from Levy in a 1992 New York Times article and one from Adam Ant in I Want My MTV:

Levy: We’ve all gotten used to the junkification of America life — to the fact that you can now eat McDonald’s and that 50 years from now, we may even be nostalgic about it.

Levy: They’ve also gotten more critical of, and more of a sense of humor about, themselves.

Adam Ant: In its initial form, video was a revolution. Then MTV became worse than the record companies, and that’s fucking saying something. It became very decadent, like ancient Rome in a way. It was all about who you knew, and how many bottles of champagne you sent them. It began as a tough, groundbreaking, sexy, subversive, stylish thing with a sense of humor. Then it became all business.

The two of them only differ in age by 3 years, so we’re not talking about a generation gap.