Half-Ass Roundtable IV - This One's For You, 2012!

By tomorrow the year will have passed so Cole, Andrew, and Stu just had to get half-assed!

Ten months later a second Half-Ass Roundtable for 2012 has been convened!  In fact it is only the fourth HAR to have been produced since the show was founded in June of last year.  In 2013 it is our hope to rectify the twice-a-year trend and bring you a minimum of four Roundtables annually. 

This show is essentially listener driven and as such we need your help.  Half-Ass Roundtable is a challenge for seasoned podcasters who are faced with putting forth a full half-hour show without any foreknowledge of the topic at hand.  The topics are provided by you, our listeners (send yours to mrsjedicole@yahoo.com).  All questions are screened by Mrs. JediCole then color-coded and sent to Cole for selection on the show.  All that the co-hosts know in advance is that there are a specific number of emailed questions to choose from that have unrelated code names.  

Once one is selected and read they have 30 minutes to provide a viable show on the topic, sink or swim.  Going into this episode they were three for three.  Will they make it this time?  Of course you may wish to enjoy our previous episodes before taking this one on, or you can jump right in and come back for what came before.  Here are links to those episodes should you wish to enjoy them and perhaps find inspiration to send in your own topics.  

(NOTE: Bear in mind I don't censor or reign in the hosts or guests.  There is some language that is not appropriate for the little ones and some of the concepts may be a bit shocking to some.  This is a damn good show and the most organic and off the cuff of any show I've been involved with.  If you pass this up for content you are missing something pretty spectacular, but that is your choice and we respect it.) 

I: Where to Begin?  
II: What the Hell Happened to My Villains?!
III: Reports of Its Demise Were Exaggerated

And now, episode four:

Coming Soon - The CAP-TX Committed Website!

I have some exciting news for the ever-expanding JediCole Universe!  For a few months now the Convention Awareness Project - Texas has brought information on upcoming conventions of fan interest in the Lone Star State, complete with interviews.  While the project itself has had various incarnations over the years it has never been utilized to its full potential.  Until now! 

On January 1, 2012 I will be launching a committed web page for CAP-TX as your one-stop website for comic, anime, toy, sci-fi, gaming, steampun, literary, and other related conventions within the great state of Texas.  There are a myriad of sites out there that offer lists of upcoming conventions but no single site I've visited in preparation for 2013 had absolutely every convention in Texas on their list.  In fact it took a lot of searching to compile a list of upcoming conventions in the new year.  And each time I thought I had found them all, another website would have one or two more conventions listed!

The biggest difference between CAP-TX and other sites, however, will be the in-depth coverage of conventions before they happen!  As with the preview segments that have appeared on the JCU site, the Convention Awareness Project site will feature interviews with the promoters and creators of the conventions showcased throughout 2013.  I love that Texas is one of the most convention-rich states in the U.S. and the purpose of the new site is to celebrate that fact.  And to help other fans discover exactly what's out there.  Remember, "You Can't Go If You Don't Know!"

And now, by way of a preview of what to expect from the Convention Awareness Project website, I give you the most comprehensive list of conventions in Texas in 2013 to be found anywhere!  Click on the name of the convention to be taken to their website.  

28-30 IKKiCon VII (Austin, TX)

5-6 North Texas Comic Book Show (Dallas, TX)
18-19 The Gray Ball (San Antonio, TX)
19 Eckman’s Toy Show (Live Oak, TX)

8-10 Ushicon 2013 (Round Rock, TX)
9 Texas Collectibles Expo (San Antonio, TX) 
9-10 Sci-Fi Expo (Irving, TX)
15-17 Con DFW XII (Addison, TX)
15-17 OwlCon XXXII (Houston, TX)

8-10 All-Con 2013 (Addison, TX)
15-17 RevelCon 24 (Houston, TX)
22-24 AggieCon 44 (College Station, TX)
23-24 South Texas Collectors Expo (Laredo, TX)
29-31 Anime Matsuri (The Woodlands, TX)
5-7 ChimeraCon 2013 (San Antonio, TX)
13 LeoCon 2013 (College Station, TX)
13-14 MAG Con 5 (New Caney, TX)
25-28 HAuNTcon 2013(Irving, TX)
26-28 Sun City Sci-Fi (El Paso, TX)
3-5 Dwarf-Con 2013 (Austin, TX)
3-5 Texas Frightmare Weekend (Dallas, TX)
17-19 Dallas Comic Con (Irving, TX)
17-19 Texicon (Fort Worth, TX)
23-26 GALACTICON III (Houston, TX)
24-26 Anime Odyssey 2013 (San Antonio, TX)
24-26 Comicpalooza (Houston, TX)
31-June 2 A-Kon 24 (Dallas, TX)
6-9 North Texas RPG Convention (Fort Worth, TX)
21-23 ApolloCon 2013 (Houston, TX)
28-30 Texas Comicon 2013 (San Antonio, TX)
5-7 Anime Overload (Austin, TX)
12-14 Delta H Con (Houston, TX)
26-27 Omnicon (McAllen, TX)
26-28 ArmadilloCon 35 (Austin, TX)
2-4 Space City Con (Houston, TX)
16-18 San Japan Sinister 6 (San Antonio, TX)
30-September 2 AnimeFest
29-September 2 Lone Star Con 3 (71st Worldcon) (San Antonio, TX)
21-22 South Texas Collectors Expo (Laredo, TX)

4-6 Fan Days (Irving, TX)
4-6 FenCon X (Addison, TX)
Realms Con (Corpus Christi, TX)
MonsterCon (San Antonio, TX)
Zombie Con 2013 (San Antonio, TX)
1-3 Oni-Con 2013 (Galveston, TX)
8-10 MillenniumCon 16 (Round Rock, TX)
22-24 WhoFest (Dallas, TX)
22-24 Wizard World Austin Comic Con (Austin, TX)
YuleCon (Fort Worth, TX)

The Convention Awareness Project - Texas listing is a free service provided for the benefit of conventions and convention goers.  All dates are as provided by the respective conventions' websites and are subject to change or cancellation without prior notice.  Conventions with no set date as of the publication of this article are featured in their typical month of production.  This list is for information purposes only.  I strongly recommend keeping track of the website of any conventions you may be interested in attending to watch for changes.  The JediCole Universe is not responsible for any cancellations or changes and has no direct association with or ownership of any of the events listed above.

Hey Kids, Comics! #23 - A Christmas Stocking Stuffer

Welcome to the official Hey Kids, Comics!Boxing Day Special (for our friends in England, Australia, and any other countries where this day is tradition (it is not here so we are all back to work today)!  Every show has its Christmas or holiday special around this time of year so Andrew and Cole decided that their podcast should be no different.  And to that end they present a holiday-themed issue that has nothing to do with A Christmas Carol!  

On this very special episode your festive hosts open the HKC home and hearth to the world of comics in every regard. We invite various heroes and villains to a HKC! Christmas party, explore Marvel Comics' blast from the past, Godzilla, jump back and forth between themes, and have a good time generally in a holiday free-for-all.  What was intended to be an exploration of Christmas in comics turns into our impromptu office Christmas party and we just (virtually) drunkenly stagger all around various topics.  
A belated Merry Christmas to all and to all a Hey Kids, Comics! night!

The Comics Alliance article referenced in this issue can be found here.

Play With Your Toys on Christmas Day!

While not a Christmas present from this or years past, this AT-AT got to go on a bit of a field trip outside of my studio today when north Texas got an unexpected (and rare) Christmas snow!  One of the photos taken seemed ideal for sharing as a kind of holiday greeting card from The JediCole Universe to our fans, old and new.

Here are a few more photos taken with the AT-AT in the snow.

And this is why it is important to stamp your AT-AT's feet on the porch before bringing it back inside after a snow photo shoot...

Merry Christmas from all of us at The JediCole Universe!  We look forward to bringing you more fun in the coming year.

The Collector's Piece #1: What Do You Get the Star Wars Collector Who Has Everything?

How about the Star Wars collecting books that HAVE everything!

With Christmas fast approaching many a friend or family member of a collector finds themselves wondering about the perfect gift.  Nobody wants to accidentally give a collectible the recipient already has in their collection and gift cards are not always available to the places collectors shop.  While I cannot help you with every kind of collector out there, I do have a pair of great recommendations for the Star Wars collector in  your life...the Star Wars Super Collector's Wishbooks!

For ten years this series of books has become a staple for collectors worldwide.  Each volume is packed with thousands of photos and tens of thousands of listings and prices.  In 2011 the Star Wars Super Collector’s Wishbook underwent two major changes.  The first was a change in publishers (from Collector Books to its new home at Schiffer Publications) and the other a change of format.  While the overall structure of the book remained the same, the presentation changed in one important way.  For the first time the content was split into two volumes, one for collectibles of every type except toys and the other, titled simply Star Wars Toys, encompassing perhaps the single largest category of collectibles within this license.

This change allowed for a greater number of reference photos to be included and eliminated an element of prior editions, the statement, “See prior editions for photo” on many listings.  Over the years the size of these books remained the same, but the volume of collectibles being showcased grew and grew.  A larger format with more pages was considered, but the price point for a single massive tome proved higher than for two separate books.  And the decision to split the work into two volumes also meant that collectors were not faced with an unwieldy and oversized book on their shelves.

“Impressive.  Most impressive.” – Darth Vader (The Empire Strikes Back)

The Star Wars Super Collector’s Wishbook (2011)

This volume represents the sixth edition of this long running series.  I had the incredible good fortune of meeting the author just prior to the publication of the first edition and was able to see a black and white proof of the edition before it went to press.  That sample was impressive in its own right, but did not do justice to the finished product to come.  Over the years this series has only become more incredible in the sheer scope of its coverage of Star Wars licensed products. 

In this latest incarnation, Mr. Carlton brings back the format of the earliest editions with larger photos of featured items in every conceivable category but toys.  By eliminating toys from the mix there is more room for all of the apparel, school supplies, trading cards, keychains, patches, dishware, and comic books (to name just a few categories) featured.  As many collectors focus on a specific category or character, having a resource that not only lists products and prices, but shows you what you might be missing is a positive boon.  Especially when the illustrations do not require a magnifying glass to be seen!

With 464 pages containing 12,000 color photos and featuring over 24,000 collectibles, The Star Wars Super Collector’s Wishbook is not only an ideal resource for collectors, it is a fascinating book to peruse for collector and non-collector alike.  Hours can be spent turning the pages and drinking in the sheer volume of collectibles produced worldwide over the last 35 years.  The phenomenon that is Star Wars was never portrayed as well as it is in the pages upon pages of consumer goods that grace this gorgeous book.  And when one considers the thousands of hours it took to photograph the featured items (a staggering percentage of which were photographed by the author himself) this book, like its companion volume, becomes only the more amazing.

Star Wars Toys: A Super Collector's Wishbook (2012)

The long-awaited sister book of The Star Wars Super Collector’s Wishbook has been available only a scant few months and is equally impressive.  I got my start as a Star Wars collector with the Kenner Early Bird Set under the Christmas tree in 1977, so this book has already become a personal favorite.  My own personal knowledge of toys based on George Lucas’ epic pales against the coverage of this category offered by this book.  At press time the book contained images and listings of every toy known to the author from the 1978 release of the first Kenner action figures (Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and Chewbacca of the aforementioned set) to toys that were released early in 2012!

Like its companion title, this volume offers not only prices and reference photos, it presents a compelling journey through the history and scope of just one category of Star Wars collecting.  Toys and playthings from all over the world, some so obscure that most collectors had no idea of their existence, are brought front and center with colorful pages full of surprises.  From the life-long collector to those just starting out, this book is an invaluable resource for every Star Wars toy hunter. 

With over 8,600 color photos the expansive coverage of toys offered by this edition is nothing short of incredible.  Tens of thousands of toys are listed in this prolific chronicle that is further sub-categorized for ease of use.  As both a collecting reference book and a history lesson in the success of LucasFilm when it came to marketing the Star Wars saga.  It truly is a must-have volume for the serious Star Wars toy collector in your life.

Even collectors who have previous editions of this series will appreciate both of these new books awaiting them under the tree.  Personally I own all seven books in the series which are proudly displayed on a bookshelf in the living room below several Star Wars statues.  Many are the collector who have maintained a library of all of the past books in the series and anxiously await the arrival of the next (which have been released every two to three years in the past).  

Geoffrey Carlton's dedication to and love of Star Wars collecting is evident in all of the books in the series which are further enhanced by feature articles written by fellow fans and collectors as well as the author himself.  I have personally had articles I penned appear in three volumes of the series, including the newly released Star Wars Toys.  Apart from the additional collectibles that are added to each new release, brand new articles are an added plus to every book in the series.  

464 pages

448 pages

Hey Kids, Comics! #22 - Tales To Admonish!

Welcome to the latest issue of Hey Kids, Comics!, a unique episode that was headed in one direction and found itself instead on a refreshing new path.  As a follow up to the two-part “Fails to Astonish” issue, this was originally to be “Return 2 the Aisle of Toys: The Comic Book Toy Hall of Fame”.  And in a great many ways it remains so, but with an unexpected twist.  None of the toys discussed exist.  Yet.

Thusly the title changed as this issue became not an exploration of how the various toy companies got it right over the years but instead a love letter to super-hero and comic related toys in which Andrew and Cole wax poetic about the toys they want to see and would buy, if anyone at DC Direct, Hasbro, or Mattel is listening!  In the course of discussions your faithful hosts not only explore the width and breadth of their  own collecting desires, but also explore why such choices are ideal for fans and collectors.  And naturally we admonish the toy manufacturers to give us these toys!
Cole has long called this the “Golden Age of Collecting”, in which nearly any movie, television show, or comic book you have ever loved will eventually be optioned as some form of collectible.  This statement has, over the last ten years, been borne out beyond expectations so it is with sincere hope that Andrew joins his co-host in presenting a wish list of the collectibles that have not occurred in reality, but certainly could. 

Hey Kids, Comics #21 - Secret Origins: The Andrew Farmer Story

Welcome to the latest issue of HKC! in which we explore the man, the mystery, the incredible host and creator of this very podcast…none other than Andrew Farmer! 

Cole puts Andy on the spot with an unexpected show that is all about him and the long and winding path from fan to collector to podcaster to show host.  What leads a Green Lantern fan and comic aficionado to get into podcasting?  What makes him want to subject himself to a brutal weekly schedule of informing and entertaining fellow comic readers and fans?  What does it take to make such a leap and start your own show? 
Enjoy this lively exploration of all things Hey Kids, Comics!  full of great insights into the man who made it all possible!  (And who put JediCole on the spot a mere 13 issues ago with a  similar show!)

Hey Kids, Comics! #20 - Sensing Comics: Something Tells Me I'm Smelling Something Good

Four out of five...that ain't too shabby!  

Yes indeed, over the course of five weeks Andrew and Cole have managed to tackle almost all of the five senses as portrayed in comics and the "super" enhancements thereof that exist in the real world today.  In this, the concluding issue of the "Sensing Comics" story arc, the sense of smell gets its due. 

Join your intrepid co-hosts as they get on the scent of our sense of smell and how it has benefited comic book characters in a variety of ways.  And as has been the case throughout this arc, speculation runs rampant on the nature of this sense as suggested by the characters, even if it has not played a role on the printed page.  

Hey Kids, Comics #19 - Sensing Comics: Did You Just Hear Something?

Hey Kids, Comics! is back, so give us a listen as we explore how sound and hearing play an important roll in comics.  The current story arc, "Sensing Comics" draws nearer to its conclusion with this episode that provides unique insights on one of the top four senses that have an impact  in comics.  And if you like what you hear we would like to hear from you!

What was that?  Why it was the sound of another great episode of Hey Kids, Comics! coming your way of course!  As an audio production this issue covers subject matter of vital importance to podcasters everywhere, the sense of hearing. 

What Would Comic Book Villains Do? (WWCBVD?) Week 9

It's Black Friday in the United States so what better day to explore the dark side of super-powered entities than to present a new addition of What Would Comic Book Villains Do?  So without further ado we will explore how some of our favorite bad guys would handle a particular social situation...

Scenario: A friend of yours comes to you for advice about a big decision in their life.  What they have in mind is not a good idea in the least.  You don’t want to hurt your friend’s feelings but at the same time you see nothing but disaster coming from their plans.  What do you do?
Dr. Psycho:  In cases like this one it is always best to fall back on the old ways.  Some people we encounter in our lives simply lack the capacity to realize their dreams, or in this case, realize how foolish those dreams are in reality.  What is best for them in the long run is to have me administer some targeted reordering of their thought processes.  I am a doctor after all.  I live to help people, especially if they may help me in the process advance the ends of my own dreams.  After all, my dreams are the only ones worth dreaming! 

So once I’ve managed to erase any vestiges of such pointless notions from his mind I would then help make sure he puts his time and energy to a more useful purpose as one of my mindless henchmen.  After all, even if he gets caught aiding and abetting me, no court in the land would convict someone under the unnatural influences of a master manipulator of the mental capacity of others.  It is a win-win situation really.

Mesmero:  You know if I had a dollar for every time one of my friends or colleagues came to me with some half-baked scheme asking for advice I would never have had to turn to a life of crime!  Be it my old college buddies or that guy from two doors down at my apartment complex or worse still other super-villains, everyone has an angle on something!  And for some reason I seem to have this big flashing sign around my neck that everyone but me can see that says, “The Life Advisor Is In”!  I learned  a long time ago to just hypnotize any such notions right out of their noggins so I don’t have to suffer through giving my sage advice only to have it flatly ignored!

Saturn QueenAs a would-be, and bear in mind I don’t intend to remain so for much longer, conqueror of the galaxy I have little time for such trivialities.  Who has time to cultivate friendships when there are planets to subjugate and the Legion of Super-Heroes to thwart?  Mere mortals simply do not understand what we villains go through on a day to day basis!  Do you know what it is like to spend months or years hatching a scheme alone or with my colleagues only to have the whole thing undermined in a heartbeat by some do-gooder?!  Of course you don’t!

And the worst thing is that we villains don’t tend to socialize much.  Sure we get together to plan, to scheme, to work out the minutia of our next caper, but that is strictly business.  I don’t even know Lightning Lord’s real name!  How sad is that? 

You know this feels really good, opening up like this and all.  I spend so much of my time exerting my mental will on others to open bank vaults or decide not to arrest me that after all that I never get a chance to share my true self.  Is this the kind of thing friends do?  I believe I would like to have this friend after all.  Someone I could tell about my day over the vidphone and just get a lot off my chest.  Especially that “grand plan” my friend has in mind!  If anyone ever needed a notion willed out of their head by someone it is my friend!  What a moron!  In fact I find myself questioning why I ever decided to have a friend in the first place!  I wonder if I can self-hypnotize that notion out of my own head. 

Hi.  Who are you?

Controller:  Who am I to stand in the way of someone else’s plans?  Have all of my own schemes gone forward as hoped?  Not even close!  Sometimes I sit in my jail cell or at my headquarters depending on my present state of personal liberty and contemplate the aspects of my schemes I should have recognized as detrimental.  Hindsight is 20/20 as they say! 

Sure I could always take over his mind and extract such thoughts and ambitions as I deem impossible, couldn’t I?  Now you tell me how that is a responsible use of my powers!  This is my buddy we are talking about here!  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find people you can just pal around with when you look like this?!  There is no way I would do anything to jeopardize that friendship.  Besides, he’s a grown man, he can choose his own way, right or wrong.  You never know, he might just pull it off!  

Starro the Conqueror:  There is only one way.  THE way!  There is only Starro!  Starro must rule all!  The Way of Starro is the way of all life!  All must bow before the might of Starro the Conqueror!   

 So what I am getting at here is that I would use one of my countless spores to take him over and make him my slave for all time or until the Justice League again manages to thwart my deviltry, whichever comes first.  Sorry about all that “Starro must rule!” garbage.  When you’ve been conquering as long as I have, and you look to all the world like a harmless, if colossal, starfish then you have to really pump up the drama to be taken seriously.  Since I’ve never really been one for friends or camaraderie I think a good spore to the face is the way to go here.  

Puppet Master:  Oooooh!  I just realized that this would be an ideal opportunity to utilize my special mind control clay to create a puppet of this hapless friend!  Imagine his confusion as I, behind the scenes, manipulate his every action, silently guiding him to make the kind of decisions I would make to keep his plan on track.  Naturally I want him to succeed where otherwise he would have failed. The best case is that he would become filthy rich with my guidance and then I could simply force him to divert much of his new wealth to me!  What a great plan!  If only I had such a friend…

But wait!  I just realized something else!  I could engineer this whole scenario by using my special clay to make a puppet of some random individual, forcing him to be my friend and later to ask my advice about his hare-brained scheme.  I could feign support while secretly putting my plan of manipulation into effect and in the end making myself rich!  You know I don’t usually respond to these surveys but in this case I am really glad I did!

Hey Kids, Comics! - The Back Issue Bin

 Hey kids!  This week Andrew and Cole are taking a much needed break before the holidays so, as announced, there is not scheduled episode of Hey Kids, Comics!  But it occurred to us that many people have only recently discovered this show and, like finding a new comic title already in progress, they might enjoy catching up on the previous issues. 

To that end we present The Back Issue Bin, a chance to catch up on every single issue of HKC! released to date.  From the surprisingly concise #0 issue in which we sought our footing to the first issues of the current story arc, "Sensing Comics" you can peruse and download the 19 issue run thus far in one easy to find location.  And next week we will return with the penultimate issue of the current story arc.  We hope you will join us and in the mean time enjoy some of our earlier work.
Thank you,
Andrew Farmer - Host and Creator of Hey Kids, Comics! 
Cole Houston - Co-Host and Producer of Hey Kids, Comics!
Almond Puppycuddles - Dog/Hamster Hybrid of HKC! Labs

The Back Issue Bin


Coming Soon:
#19 Sensing Comics: Did You Just Hear Something? (11/28/12)
#20 Sensing Comics: Something Tells Me I’m Smelling Something Good (12/5/12)

You never know what you will find in a back issue bin!

The Apocrypha #3 - The Cave Man of Steel

Editorial Note: This edition of The Apocrypha was to have been published on Sunday, November 11.  That it failed to be thus is typical of how things happen when the staff of The Apocrypha are given a deadline.  Despite this grevious error in timing, the headline banner has been published with the original scheduled date unchanged.  This will serve as a reminder to our staff that timeliness is key and to our readers that The Apocrypha is about as half-assed an operation as you are likely to find in the world. 
                               Captain Theodore Vincent MacHornberger III (CTVM3) - publisher, The Apocrypha

The Cave Man of Tomorrow
By Joe Rockhead
In 2001, Warner Brothers reinvented the Superman mythos, though certainly not for the first time, with their hit television series Smallville.  Previous television shows like Superboy and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman put their own unique spin on the Man of Steel, however there was a certain ABC show in the 60s that served as a pathfinder for all of these programs.  In 1963, early into its fourth season, the Hanna Barbera-produced prime time cartoon The Flintsones debuted the first televised retelling of Superman’s origin.  A groundbreaking  move that went unnoticed for nearly a decade!

Hanna Barbera was notorious for borrowing themes and characters from other creators, retooling them, and calling it original.  From the Sgt. Bilko-inspired Top Cat to their more famous, and far more contentious, Honeymooners rip-off, The Flintstones, this little animation studio made a name for themselves that persists to this day.  Secure in having successfully avoided a threatened lawsuit from Jackie Gleason, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera next set their sights on DC Comics for inspiration.  And with flagship character Superman still basking in the limelight, the character’s back story must have seemed ripe for the picking.

But what connection does the “modern Stone Age family” have to “the last son of Krypton”?  The story of a mysterious orphan with powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men being adopted by an amiable and childless couple to be raised as a normal human being of course!  Or proto-human being depending on the epoch in question.  And so it is that, like his contemporary counterpart, the Cro-Magnon Kryptonian known as Bam-Bam shares an early history that mirrors that of Kal-El.  

Strange Visitor
While not as dramatic as the planet fall of his comic book cousin, Bam-Bam’s arrival in Bedrock would be no less impactful.  Abandoned on the front porch of the Rubble house in a tortoise shell cradle, the baby boy was a blessing to the Flintstone’s infertile neighbors.  Initially mistaken for “another basket full of kittens” in exactly the way the infant Kal-El’s unearthly conveyance was not, Bam-Bam was a welcome addition to Barney and Betty’s lives.  So overwhelmed were the couple by there unexpected bundle of joy, they were completely unbothered by the child’s inexplicable superior strength.

At least, like the Kents, the Rubbles had to make the adoption of the abandoned child official.  Unlike their counterparts they faced a legal battle with prehistoric one-percenter Mr. Stonyfeller who presented a prior claim on the boy.  Represented as he was by the highly successful Perry Masonary, the couple lost the custody battle and very nearly their bid at parenthood.  While they certainly could have elected to pursue more traditional avenues of adoption, fate smiled upon them when Mrs. Stonyfeller proved not to be barren after all.  Upon discovering that he would have a true blood heir, the wealthy Bedrock resident retracted his custody claim and averted potential class warfare.

Whether Stonyfeller was aware of Bam-Bam’s potential like some prototype of the Luthors of Smallville is uncertain, but within the confines of a single prime-time episode, Bam-Bam became a Rubble for all time.  And it was under the care of his newfound parents that he began to exhibit the preternatural strength that would be his childhood trademark.  Much like the infant Superman-to-be, Bam-Bam’s was known for incredible feats that were beyond the capacity of even the most powerful adult, like lifting his father’s automobile and placing it within the garage.  Plus he had the personal liability-inducing habit of hurling Fred Flintstone bodily to the floor from one side of himself to the other. 

Powers and Abilities
Unlike Clark Kent’s adoptive parents, Bam-Bam’s openly reveled in the unique nature of their son.  Given the level of social sophistication exhibited over 10,000,000 years before a strange visitor from another planet plowed into a Kansas field, there was little likelihood that government black-ops teams or experimentation on extraterrestrial life forms had been invented yet.  At that period in prehistory, if it couldn’t be done by a trained animal, it simply couldn’t be done!  So in that regard it was relatively safe to tout the existence of an adopted child who could lift hundreds of times his own weight with ease comparable to his parents lifting a dodo feather.

In order to skirt copyright infringement issues such as those that plagued Fawcett Publications’ flagship character Captain Marvel, the animators shrewdly opted to limit Bam-Bam’s super-humanity to impossible strength.  Early drafts of fifth season scripts had suggested the addition of “fire vision” and “ice breath” to the boy’s repertoire but when the high-profile Shazam! case reduced Fawcett to reprinting Family Circus comics, plans for power expansion were scrapped.  By managing to escape the attention of National Periodical Publications, Hanna Barberra was able to effectively borrow the basic conceptual themes of Superman for an additional two years.

What Ever Happened to the First Last Son of Krypton?
Five years after the show that made Bedrock famous and wooly mammoths synonymous with housecleaning, a spin-off show was to be launched that would bring a teenaged Bam-Bam, flushed with Herculean strength, to the forefront.  However, a shrewd copyright lawyer at DC Comics happened to be home with the flu one fateful day and chanced to watch two episodes of The Flintstones prominently featuring the baby version of the character, including his first appearance.  The similarities in the origin and powers of Bam-Bam and those of Superman as presented by Simon and Shuster were not lost on this litigator. 

Contacting his employers from his sickbed he insured a promotion by informing the publisher of the blatant disregard of intellectual property rights  displayed by the syndicated cartoon.  A threatened lawsuit forced a last-minute rewrite of the first episodes of the new series, The Pebbles and Bam-Bam Show, dooming it to obscurity in the eyes of many fans.  In an out of court settlement the creators of the cartoon did not admit direct wrong-doing but did acknowledge the similarities and pledged to remove any super-human aspects from the character in any and all future incarnations.  

And so it was that when the Flintstone and Rubble children were given their own series, every vestige of his former strength was not only absent but also not spoken of in past tense.  While such a move spared the show’s creators a potentially devastating court appearance, it did leave life-long fans wondering why Bam-Bam had managed to outgrow his super power.  While the onscreen  character was officially no more endowed of strength than the Bronto Bunch’s Zonk, fan fiction picked up where the show left off.  Bedrock Babylon, a popular fanzine of the day, was the most noted for not only extrapolating the Bam-Bam/Superman connection to its logical conclusion, but also suggesting that the aforementioned motorcycle gang were in fact corollaries to the Phantom Zone criminals. 

While the Bronto/Zod connection went quietly unnoticed by a more attentive DC Comics, it was not the only example of Hanna Barbera skirting the Cease and Desist order.  The Great Gazoo is widely recognized as a blatant rip-off of Superman’s extra-dimensional thorn in the side, Mr. Mxyzptlk.  None the less, speculation runs rampant to this day that perhaps the character did garner notice and as such was the real catalyst for the demise of The Flintstones rather than the lackluster, shark-jumping plotlines and incessant pop-culture nods.  An unpublicized action against the animation studio could well have been what opened the door for future DC Comics parent company Warner Brothers to obtain Hanna Barbera outright, thereby taking the Bam-Bam saga full circle.

Joe Rockhead is a freelance writer and author of “Modern Stone Age Conveniences – The Technology of ‘The Flintstones’”  He resides in New Rock, NR with his wife, three children, and their hoparoo. 

Note: This article is dedicated to my lifelong friend Steve McCauley and his lifelong love of Superman and to my friend John Glio and his lifelong love of The Flintstones. Special thanks to John for his suggestions and Flintstone fact-checking. - JediCole

Hey Kids, Comics #18 - Sensing Comics: You've Got the Touch

Welcome to a touchy, feely issue of Hey Kids, Comics!, literally!  As “Sensing Comics” continues, Andrew and Cole get in touch with the sense of touch.  While seemingly a difficult topic at the outset, they soon find their stride and discover all manner of examples of how touch can be an important sense within the realm of comic book characters.

All things tactile are the order of the day on this episode which takes us half way through the latest story arc.  This before a necessary skip week for Hey Kids, Comics! 

There will be no new issue next Wednesday, but look for the show to return the following week on November 28 with "Sensing Comics: Did You Just Hear Something?"

Hey Kids, Comics! #17 - Sensing Comics: Insights on Sight

Hey Kids, Comics! continues to delve into the human and super-human senses in our latest story arc, "Sensing Comics".  In this issue we explore sight in comics as well as in the real world.  A variety of observations are made on how comic book characters as well as we normal folks (and sometimes not so normal) utilize our eyes. 

Join Andrew Farmer and Cole Houston as they take a look at how our optic nerves can be taken a step further in reality and to unfathomed plateaus.  From the natural to the super-natural, the enhanced to the downright incredible, the eyes have it in this great episode!

Jedi Justifications #4 - Hoth Mail Call

This is a first (and hopefully not the last) for Jedi Justifications.  The originally scheduled installment is being postponed so I can address a couple of questions that arrived in a recent email.  The following came to me from Rick Gutierrez, founder and fearless leader of the United States of Geekdom.  <PLUG!>  And do not fear, I have not forgotten what was promised for Jedi Justifications #4, this was just too good a challenge to pass up.

I have a couple of things to get justified by you.

The first is why is Lando wearing Han's clothes at the end of Empire Strikes Back?

The second is why did the Empire not send out TIE Fighters to intercept the escaping Rebels as they were escaping from Hoth?  The Ion Cannon is hardly anything to be sneezed at I know but the TIE Fighters would certainly have been something of use to help out the incapacitated Star Destroyers and take down the escaping transports.

The second one might make a little more sense to me but the Lando one just perplexes and disturbs me just a bit...

I am going to address these in chronological (in the context of events chronicled in  The Empire Strikes Back) rather than inquiry order as the Lando question seems to be the one that had the most impact on Rick.  This will serve the further purpose of putting Lando’s wardrobe choice into perspective.  The overall timing of things within the context of the film has bearing, though events on the moon of Hoth that hosted the Rebel base have little direct relevance to the second question.  So without further ado, the justification of the TIE Fighter issue.

When crossing swords the Imperial and Rebel forces can be analogous to just such weapons.  The Rebellion is a rapier and the Empire a Claymore.  Both are effective weapons in their own right but each has its myriad advantages and disadvantages.  The Imperial martial doctrine is one of size and strength while the Rebellion, largely out of necessity, enjoys a greater sense of agility and maneuverability that comes with being smaller and more versatile.  From the standpoint of military doctrine, the Empire favors coming on strong and putting their largest forces at the forefront.  Intimidation is a powerful tool for a government that is accustomed to having their enemies lose resolve in the face of superior forces.  Hence Admiral Ozzel’s ham-fisted approach to stealth that allowed the Rebellion to shield their base from orbital bombardment.

Overconfident in its own might, the Imperial command tends to underestimate the tenacity and adaptability of the Rebellion.  The presence of the ion cannon certainly underscores that aspect of the Alliance.  While they had a presence in the past on Dantooine and one of Yavin’s moons, a capital weapon of the scale of the ion gun suggests that there was never a single, all-encompassing Rebel base anywhere in the galaxy.  The Hoth moon base was just the latest to be utilized at full. 

What made it an ideal location to escape Imperial notice also made it a treacherous place to maintain.  Its proximity to an asteroid field that could not be navigated by any but the smallest craft also left the entire Hoth system subject to constant impacts by meteors and asteroids.  The solution was a massive laser emplacement that could be utilized to deflect or destroy larger asteroids that might threaten the construction and settlement of the base.

The added strategic advantage of this weapon was the effect of a concentrated ionic pulse on spacecraft of any size.  The devastating effect of that type of blast is illustrated when the first transport makes good its escape right under the nose of a Star Destroyer.  But then there is that burning question of why there was no concentrated Imperial pursuit.  And again it comes down to that sense of empowerment that comes from having the largest and most deadly fleet in the galaxy at your disposal.  While the Destroyer in question undoubtedly maintained a compliment of TIE Fighters, the commanders would have seen no point in fielding them when their gunners could easily pick off any fleeing Rebel craft.  After all, the Star Destroyer is bristling with guns of every imaginable size and range.
What their “might makes right” attitude did not allow them to anticipate was the possibility that a charged ion blast would precede the evacuation craft.  After all, the Probe Droid had discovered the shield generator but not the full range of the Rebel ordinance before its destruction so the presence of such a weapon would not have seemed likely.  Once struck, all operations within the affected Star Destroyer would have been rendered unworkable, including the launching of a wing of TIE Fighters.  Frankly it would be all the pilots could do to keep the vessel from falling into the gravitational pull of the Hoth moon!  And though it is not seen on screen, it is safe to assume that other destroyers suffered the fate of the hapless first on which did not in fact land its first, or indeed any, catch of the day.

And on a final note regarding TIE Fighters, the inevitable question would rise as to why none were sent in pursuit of the escaping transport and its escort wing by other Destroyers in the vicinity.  Partly this would be due to the element of surprise being very much in the Rebel’s favor and also due to the specific limitations of Imperial fighter craft.  As one Destroyer is taken out unexpectedly, the commanders of all others would have been more concerned about getting their capital ships clear of the range of the ion gun than in scrambling their fighter crews.  And even if they had, the dynamics of both Imperial and Rebel fighters have been well established.  As is repeatedly illustrated, Imperial military thinking is short sighted and results in effective yet somewhat limited weapons.
The TIE Fighter is designed to be fast and nimble in dogfights, but has no purpose beyond warfare.  Again, largely out of necessity, the X-Wing Fighter is a multi-purpose craft that is both an ideal for combat as well as transport applications.  This is illustrated in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke is reloading the cargo bay in the belly of the craft as he departs the swamps of Dagobah.  This is a product of the X-Wing being designed to make planetary landing.  The standard TIE Fighter is meant to be flown until its mission is completed or it is destroyed.  And then there is the hyperdrive capacity of the X-Wing, a feature sorely lacking in the short range TIE Fighter.  While this aspect of the Rebel craft was not revealed until Return of the Jedi, it is implicit in Luke’s journey to Dagobah which would have taken years absent hyperdrive technology.  Once underway, no TIE could hope to pursue the escaping Rebels once they went into hyperspace.  So in the end there would have seemed to be little point in sending fighters in pursuit of Rebel craft that were never meant to have made it past the blockade of Destroyers.

Now from Hoth System we make our way to the Noad System and Lando (the man, not the system).  To understand Lando’s choice of attire when he, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia depart the Rebel Fleet to set an elaborate rescue operation into motion, Lando has indeed doffed his elegant attire and is clothed in an outfit very much akin to Han Solo’s standard garb.  In fact it is so much a variation on Han’s minimal wardrobe changes as to almost certainly be one of the smuggler’s own outfits.  But is such a fact truly all that troublesome?

Imagine Lando’s life just before his old friend and fellow smuggling rival showed up in the city that he owns and operates.  Life was good.  He had settled down a bit, become legitimate in ways Michael Corleone only dreamt of doing, and the whole gas mining thing was starting to be worthwhile.  Then who should show up but one of the top fugitives on the Empire’s “most wanted” list with two more in tow!  Being the shrewd businessman and scoundrel to the core that he was, an offer for the Empire to turn a blind eye to his formerly unnoticed operations was too good to pass up.  Perhaps he imagined he might even get his old ship back in the bargain.  And undoubtedly use it to disappear himself from the hole he’d dug himself into at Vader’s bequest.

As we all know the deal just kept getting worse as did Lando’s whole life.  So he did the only thing any good gambler would do when backed to the wall, he went all in and cast his lot with the Rebellion.  He had certainly caught on that bargains with the Empire are largely open ended in favor of the Imperial side of things.  In the end this meant beating a hasty retreat with Chewie, Leia, Luke, and the droids without benefit of a stop by his lavish apartments to grab an overnight bag or even so much as a change of clothes!  That is one of the big differences between vacationers and refugees. 

So after a particularly trying day in which he saw his best friend flash-frozen, nearly had his trachea collapsed at the hands of an enraged Wookie, and  had to abandon his life and livelihood the last thing Lando would have wanted to do is rummage through what uniforms the Rebels may have had about on the medical frigate.  And he certainly wasn’t going to wear one of those hospital robes that Luke had for the long trip to some backwater planet in pursuit of a bounty hunter.  The only option left open to him would then be to raid Han’s closet.  Since he and his buddy are roughly the same size they likely shared wardrobe in their past adventures so this would not have seemed all that bizarre to Chewbacca.  Han’s co-pilot was worldly enough that he was not even bothered by the fact that human’s pile on so much cloth when his people go au nautrale!

Bonus Justification!
For the sake of argument let’s just say that Lando doesn’t quite wear the same size as Han.  The shirt may be just a bit too tight or the pants legs a touch too long.  Or worse yet, high waters!  This would be an inexcusable look for someone with Lando’s fashion sense.  Enter Mon Calamari textile technology!  Utilizing special memory fabrics, clothing in the Star Wars universe can be, in fact, one size fits all!  A little tug here, a little tweak there and another man’s attire will fit you as well as were it custom tailored!  But you may be asking why is this technology uniquely Mon Calamari in origin?   One need only look at Admiral Ackbar’s uniform for the answer.  Absent such malleable fabric, there would be no getting the Rebel hero’s Popeye-like forearms through the sleeves of his otherwise fairly snug tunic! 


And with that we set Rick’s concerns regarding The Empire Strikes Back at ease.  Have a burning Star Wars question that comes from scenes in the theatrically released live action Star Wars films?  Drop me a line at jedicole@yahoo.com and ask me to justify your particular conundrum! 

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