Diary Of A Teenage Girl

We went to see the movie adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic autobio, Diary of a Teenage Girl today. It’s a wonderful film, although it may be a bit too revealing for some. Phoebe grew up in San Francisco in the 70’s, so I could relate to it very well, although from her parents’ perspective. They were wild “anything goes” times, and we made the most of it. The book (and movie) make my own story in Scablands seem pretty tame. We cartoonists really really know how to do too much information. Five stars.

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Jack Kirby

KIRBYBack in the waning days of 1963, I was looking over the comics selection at Williams’ Stationary in Grass Valley. I hadn’t been keeping up with comic books much, the DC brand was too juvenile for my 12 year old tastes. I would occasionally pick up the monster comics like Tales To Astonish or maybe the Dell adaptations of The Twilight Zone or Thriller, but there were few titles that kept my interest.

That was, until the day I saw the new issue of Strange Tales featuring the Human Torch. I had never heard of the Torch before and was eager to find out what he was all about. As I read through the story, the Torch mentioned he learned his fighting skills from the Thing and Mr. Fantastic. The Thing?!…Mr. Fantastic?!… Just the names made me want to see more. A few weeks later, I finally found my first issue of Fantastic Four. It was number 21, featuring the Hate Monger, who looked like a purple version of the Ku Klux Klan and turned out to be Hitler.

I was hooked. As time went by, I was introduced to Thor, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, Spider Man and their offshoots, but the FF was the flagship, proudly announcing on the masthead; The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine. Every issue introduced characters even more fantastic than the last, be it the Watcher recording the events of the human race from the mysterious blue zone on the moon, the latest plan for world conquest by Dr. Doom, Black Bolt and the Inhumans, or the coming of Galactus and his chrome-plated herald, the Silver Surfer.

And as anybody who is half awake knows, they were the children of Jack Kirby. (Yeah, and Stan Lee, but I believe most of the creative characters came out of Kirby’s vast imagination. Stan’s gift was making the stories and dialogue flow.)

I can’t tell you how much those amazing comics inspired me, and many others. The evidence can be seen in movie theaters all over the world fifty years after the twelve cent comics first appeared on the racks.

Eventually, my tastes changed. Robert Crumb and Dan O’Neill took me in another, even more mind-boggling direction of what was possible with a dip pen and a bottle of India ink. Politics became my beat, a world that is more absurd than any comic book.

But it was Jack who jump-started my imagination and my life long obsession with the medium. He would have been ninety-eight years old today. His legacy is his contribution to our collective mythology. Long live the King.

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A word178

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Sexist Pigs 4 Trump

TrumpetteWonder what her pet cause would be? Maybe clothing for underdressed supermodels?

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Podunk Report

While making my daily rounds of Nevada County Voices, I noticed that my former editor over at Sierra Foothill Report took a swipe at me today. I usually try to avoid “Scoopy” and his snarky attitude, but if he’s going to mention me by name I might as well set the record straight. With Scoopy’s brand of reporting, it’s usually required.

We ended up at the same feeding trough last week, the third annual Fork to Face extravaganza on Commercial Street in Nevada City, but fortunately were seated several miles away from each other. Even so, I walked up to his end to get a photo of the entire length of the feast. I know he’s embarrassed to have his photo taken, so I made sure to cut him out of the frame. (No easy task.)

I may have mentioned in past posts that Scoopy’s ego is even larger than his considerable girth, and when he saw me with a camera he assumed that I was going paparazzi on him. He writes, “…he pointed his camera at me while I was eating and I lifted up a napkin just in time to block him.”

A napkin? Are you kidding?

He goes on to wonder why I, a man of the people, would show my face at an “elitist” gathering? I didn’t know there were restrictions on my “kind” attending a public event. Heck, I’m even a homeowner, not the lowly renter class he likes to complain about.

Well, anyway, I took the picture I wanted and posted it on Facebook the day after, where it can be publicly enjoyed by anyone, even Scoopy if he was so inclined.  Here it is. Scoopy is seated to the right, and completely out of the picture.F TO F Table171

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Up In The Sky!…It’s A Bird!…It’s A Plane!…It’s A….?


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Coming Distractions

Nunny at Parade167Yes, the fair is in town, but the real circus is the ongoing presidential sweepstakes. It’s no secret that I disdain both parties in this farce. Every day, they move farther and farther from the center. It could be that a new face is needed to bring some clarity to the contest. Stay tuned…

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Past Lives Matter

Nevada County Miner Native History150With the current feeding frenzy over the legacy of the confederate flag, it occurred to me that Nevada County has its own problem with the symbols of our history. The gold miner that proudly adorns our county seal is a testament to the brave souls who endured the long sea voyage or overland wagon train to reach the gold fields of California. I’ve used him to represent us in numerous cartoons over the years, the last time being the above illustration regarding the miners’ treatment of the Nisenan, the area’s original inhabitants.

The blowback was swift and sadly, predictable. It was pointed out that the natives weren’t treated any better or worse than the Chinese or any of the other minorities of the period, and that the miners were also victims of theft and murder by the locals.

Well, yeah, but none of those people lived here before the nineteenth century, and none of them had their entire culture systematically wiped from the face of the earth. When you look at the facts surrounding the Nisenan/Maidu history, it’s a miracle that any vestige of it survives today.

Even a quick search of the internet will educate you to the reality of the carnage and injustice heaped upon the local tribes. An early account from Thompson & West recounts an epidemic of smallpox, apparently intentionally introduced by the Hudson Bay Company in 1833:

“A village is mentioned in particular, located on the bank of the Sacramento River at the mouth of the Feather River and there were numerous others on the bank of the latter along nearly the whole length, and a considerable amount on the east bank. The bodies or skeletons were found on the riverbanks and under bushes in the woods, as if the sufferers were endeavoring to protect themselves from the ravages of the pestilence.”

And there is this passage from J.S. Holliday’s Rush To Riches:

“Destroyers of rivers, forests and wildlife, the transient miners were equally blind to the plight of the native people forced to flee their homeland as refugees or to resist as its defenders. These Californians – survivors of Spanish and Mexican domination – sought to escape the horde of new invaders by retreating farther into the hills. But as prospectors extended their relentless searching, followed by hundreds of impatient miners, confrontations were inevitable: Indians shot, miners ambushed, Indian villages raided, women raped, girls kidnapped, retaliations, more killings. As “volunteer militias,” miners on occasion organized Indian-hunting expeditions, which were financed during the late 1850’s with funds paid by the state government for “suppression of Indian hostilities.” Indiscriminate killings and bounties for scalps reflected public approval of whatever means might be used to “exterminate” California’s native people.”

The few Nisenan who survived the invasion eked out a living on the fringes of civilization until, through the efforts of Chief Charlie Cully,  they were granted a small plot of land to call their own on Cement Hill above Nevada City. Alas, even that small acknowledgement was rescinded in 1964 when it was determined that the tribe was not a viable entity.

The degradation continued during the early days of the hippie invasion when the graves of natives were defiled by those seeking nothing more than the stone and bone beads adorning the deceased. In the late 1990’s, Nevada City Councilman Steve Cottrell suggested naming the new street above American Hill in honor of Chief Kelly, to which another councilperson retorted, “I can’t believe we’re naming the street after that old squatter.”

My cartoon was not meant to suggest that we should dump the miner from the county seal, only that we acknowledge that a grave injustice was done to the original inhabitants of our county, an injustice that has yet to be rectified. There may be only a few of us who are directly related to the forty-niners, but we have inherited the land they conquered, and their legacy. Through our actions in the present, we can begin to heal the deep wounds of the past.. The Nisenan will be holding the annual celebration of their culture at Sierra College on November 7. I would encourage anyone who is interested to support their cause, which is to restore the Rancheria and the heritage that was unceremoniously stripped from them fifty years ago.



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And So It Begins…

GOP Nomination154

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