Can T.J. Kirsch Take Pride In “Pride Of The Decent Man” ?

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Debut graphic novels are a tricky thing : publishers are going out on a limb by backing untested — and in most cases still-developing — talent, while said “talent” is often eager, perhaps even feels pressured, to make some kind of “statement” with their work in order to elevate it above its veritable army of competitors. Attention is a hard thing to come by in the crowded comics marketplace, and whatever you’ve gotta do to get it can almost be forgiven —at least on a logical, if not an artistic, level.

With all that in mind, then, cartoonist T.J. Kirsch is to be commended for eschewing the urge to make a big splash and instead telling a quiet, honest, heartfelt, and decidedly “non-flashy” story with his first book-length work, 2017’s NBM-published Pride Of The Decent Man. Clocking in at a lean 92 pages, a good many of which…

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Scenes That I Love: Peter Stegman Plays The Piano in Class of 1984

“I am the future!” Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) announced in the 1982 film, Class of 1984, and, in many ways, he was correct.  Though it’s easy to be snarky about the fashion choices made by Stegman’s gang, Class of 1984‘s portrait of a school where teachers have taken to carrying guns to protect themselves is still relevant today.

One thing that set Class of 1984 apart from other exploitation films was that it acknowledged something that most people aren’t willing to admit.  Sometimes, the worst people can create the most beautiful music.  This is a point that was made quite literally in the scene below.

As the scene begins, the new music teacher — Andy Norman (Perry King) — is just trying to start his class when suddenly Stegman and his gang decide to drop in.  At first, Andy tells them to go away but then, suddenly, Stegman sits down at a piano and starts to play.

Timothy Van Patten, who would later go on to become an award-winning television director, reportedly actually played every note heard in this scene.  For a few brief seconds, Peter Stegman is revealed to be something more than just another high school psycho.  When Stegman sits in front of that piano, he becomes an artist and, throughout the film, both Andy Norman and the audience occasionally wonder who Peter Stegman could have been under different circumstances.

Of course, ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  Peter Stegman could have been a concert pianist but instead, he went down a different path.  Over the course of the film, Stegman is responsible for not only Michael J. Fox getting stabbed but Roddy McDowall getting blown up.  When Andy makes one final attempt to reach out to him, Stegman tries to cut his hand off.   Now wonder Andy eventually allowed Stegman to plunge through that skylight.

But even as Stegman falls to his death and discovers that he’s not the future, it’s hard not to think about that beautiful piece of music that he played just a few days earlier and wonder about what could have been.

Peter Stegman.  R.I.P.

Base-Brawl: William Bendix in KILL THE UMPIRE (Columbia 1950)

cracked rear viewer

Ahh, spring is in the air, that magical time of year, when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of… baseball!! That’s right, Dear Readers, Opening Day is upon us once again, and what better way to celebrate the return of America’s National Pastime than taking a look back at KILL THE UMPIRE, a 1950 comedy conceived in the warped mind of former animator Frank Tashlin and directed by ex-Warners vet Lloyd Bacon.

Big lug William Bendix stars as Bill Johnson, an ex-major leaguer whose passion for the game keeps him from holding a regular job because he keeps playing hooky to go to the ballpark. Bill hates only one thing more than missing a game – umpires! But when his exasperated wife threatens to leave him, his ex-ump father-in-law suggests he go to umpire school to save his marriage. Bill balks at first, but then reluctantly agrees, not wishing…

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It’s Opening Day!

Today is the day that I look forward to every year.  It’s the opening day of the 2018 MLB season!  For nearly 150 years, baseball has been America’s pastime.  Long before Andre Beltre and Mike Trout thrilled baseball fans with every swing of the bat, there were players like Hardy Richardson.

From 1875 until he retired in 1892, Hardy Richardson was one of the best players in major league baseball.  He played for 14 seasons and for 6 different teams.  When he was playing for Detroit, he led the team to victory in the 1887 World Series.  He played every single position and his stats would make any player proud.  Richardson appeared in 1,331 major league games, compiled a .299 batting average and .435 slugging percentage, and totaled 1,120 runs scored, 1,688 hits, 303 doubles, 126 triples, 70 home runs, 822 RBIs, and 377 bases on balls.

Richardson was also one of the first players known to have appeared on a baseball card.  In 1887, if you bought a pack of Old Judge cigarettes, you could also get a baseball card celebrating the career of Hardy Richardson.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

It’s been over a hundred years since Hardy Richardson last swung a bat or stole a base but both his legacy and the legacy of everyone else who has ever played the game will continue today as the teams hit the field for the first time.  Good luck to all the players on Opening Day!


Music Video of The Day: One (Your Name) by Swedish House Mafia featuring Pharrell Williams (2010, dir by Henrik Hanson and Christian Larson)

I don’t really have much to say about this video, other than it’s Swedish House Mafia so I love it.  If it makes you want to dance, then it’s done its job.