The Rantcor Pit Live #6 - The Art of Fandom

On Sunday, June 29, Cole Houston and Eddie Medina were joined for the first time by two guests for a very special edition of The Rantcor Pit - Live!

With a focus on fan art, it was only natural to invite the artist of the original logo for The Rantcor Pit, Bobby Blakey, onto the live show.  As it worked out, yet another Texas artist was in the area that morning so we welcomed Thomas Branch to the discussion as well!

Art by guest Thomas Branch (not featured on the show).
So enjoy the show, see some great art from Bobby as well at Eddie himself, and hear about some of the influences that drove these artists to create their unique styles.

An Eddie Medina sketch card.  Never bet with the Fett man.

The Rantcor Pit LIVE 2014-06-29 by DeepEllumOnAir

The original logo for "The Rantcor Pit" by Bobby Blakey.

Hey Kids, Comics! #94 - Thanks For Nothing, SDCC!

Welcome to a very charged issue of Hey Kids, Comics! that takes a look at the fandom juggernaut that is San Diego Comic Con, most specifically at the myriad exclusives available this year.

Back in the days of The Collector Sector a tradition was begun that continued with this show.  That tradition is blasting the unfortunate and perpetual circumstance that is exclusivity in collectibles.  There have long been exclusive collectibles available from nearly every vendor our there.  From mail-in offers and online exclusives to the sporadic convention exclusive.  However, every year more and more toy and collectibles manufacturers jump on the SDCC Exclusive bandwagon, often doubling or tripling their previous year’s offerings.  This is great news for attendees with a ton of cash at hand, but bad news for the average collector.

While many have given up the hobby as a result, others bide their time and await the best after market deals they can find or just give a resigned sigh and pay the big bucks from scalpers.  The advent of the Comic Con Exclusive as a major market in its own right has created a dichotomy that will be explored in this special issue.  While the exclusive tends to hurt the collector, it also brings collectibles to market that likely would never have existed otherwise. 

Join Andrew Farmer and Cole Houston, along with their special guest Rick Gutierrez of The United States of Geekdom as they vent their annual fanboy wrath on the single biggest offender in exclusive collectibles, San Diego Comic Con!

JCU Sunday Funnies #64

Want to see Bobby Blakey's art and his own humor including the newly relaunched Last Stop?  Check out six years of the strip plus new material right here!

Own the first year of You Are Here in a collected edition (Your First Year Here) only $7.50 postpaid.  More details here.

The Rantcor Pit #16 - Thanks, George!

Welcome to The Rantcor Pit, back after a brief one week hiatus.  The Deep Ellum Studios are closed this week so the schedule is a bit moved around.  None the less, Cole and Eddie are back with a special episode all about "the Father of Star Wars"!

Years of post-Episode 1 Lucas bashing have compelled us to reexamine the early days of the saga.  The tenacity of George Lucas as a filmmaker and creator paid off in a huge way and created a phenomenon.  It is easy to forget how much his work changed the cinema when concentrating solely on the tail end of the saga.

Luckily The Rantcor Pit is here to refresh our collective fanboy memories!  Join us as we take a fond look back at how things were a long time ago when Star Wars was new and took everyone by surprise. 

Note: The Rantcor Pit Live will return next Sunday (live from 11 AM - 12 PM Central) at Deep Ellum on Air!  Check us out and feel free to call in during the show.

JCU Sunday Funnies #63

Want to see Bobby Blakey's art and his own humor including the newly relaunched Last Stop?  Check out six years of the strip plus new material right here!

Own the first year of You Are Here in a collected edition (Your First Year Here) only $7.50 postpaid.  More details here.

Hey Kids, Comics! #93 - HKC! Revisited: Holding Up a Mirror to Reality

Hey Kids, Comics! is back with the final installment of our latest story arc!  As you should know by now, this and the previous four issues brought the show back to its origins as Andrew Farmer and Cole Houston reexamined the first story arc.

Join them now as they take a second look at Comic Shop Confidential and the times when comics have adopted the real world into their fictional one.  Or indeed the times when their world seemed to predict events in our own.  Even the phenomenon of "real life super-heroes" is discussed.  As this show nears its second anniversary we are proud to have taken a good look at where we started and how things have changed since those early issues.


The Apocrypha #6 – The Grundy/Bizarro Letters

By Uatu the Watcher
Visiting Professor Emeritus to DCUU

In 1978, at the bequest of criminal mastermind Lex Luthor and fashion-senseless android super-computer Brainiac, the Legion of Doom was formed as a villainous counterpoint to the Super Friends.  Charter members of this most blatant of organized crime cooperatives included arch nemeses of the Super Friends team, villains with comparable powers to the heroes, and a few purely sympathetic choices.  From powerhouses of like Sinestro to inexplicably successful criminals like Toyman, the Legion’s roster was all over the map.  Within this unlikely mix were two villains who had never previously worked together but instantly found a common bond with their pasty complexions and poor grammar – Bizarro and Solomon Grundy.

The monstrous Grundy gravitated instantly to the angularly chiseled Bizarro at the first meeting of the newly formed Legion.  Headquartered in swampland purchased by Grundy after a particularly successful crime spree, the retrofitted flying saucer that Brainiac had lying around his workshop would prove to be more than a meeting place of the malevolent and repetitive establishing shots.  It would serve as the catalyst for an enduring friendship.  However, this did not mean that said friendship was not without its drama.  The Justice League recently declassified a variety of documents which included the documents confiscated from many super-villains.  Pre-production researchers for documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ upcoming exploration of the Super Friends, “Super”, uncovered and reconstructed correspondence between Solomon Grundy and Bizarro that was found among the captured papers.

Florentine Films have graciously shared these documents with The Apocrypha which are reprinted here for the enjoyment and edification of our readers.  For the purpose of clarity, these letters, written between November 1978 and August 1979, are printed with Grundy’s letters in green and Bizarro’s in red.

I hope it okay I call you Biz… 

Grundy happy to meet you at anti-Super-Friends meeting.  Shock of mistaking you for Superman wore off soon and Grundy feel safer to talk to you.  There not things in common with other villains in group.  Bizarro funny, like backward Superman.  No laughs for Grundy in long time. 

See you at next villain meeting.  If ever in swamp, look Grundy up.  Old shed by tree in front of bubbling geyser.


I do not remember you at all.  I hated meeting you with your face that reminded me nothing of my own.  You seem like someone I could really be enemies with in a small way.  I really found it uninteresting the way you speak with such perfect grammar and diction

I would hate to visit your swamp home.  I have always hated such places and yours sounds like the worst.  You are the most boring hero I have ever met!

Hope to never see you at a meeting,

P.S. Don’t ever call me Biz.

Sorry to offend.  Took big liberty calling you Biz.  Grundy confused by your letter.  Realize my command of language limited, but striving for improvement through tutoring and daily language exercises.  Most of time Grundy lapses back to bad use of English. 

Still thrown by your letter.  Seemed like Bizarro and Grundy make good friends, maybe team up in future to destroy Green Lantern and Superman.  Outcasts need stick together.  Obvious Luthor only invite us to Doom Legion for being strong.  Grundy not one to give up easy, just ask Green Lantern.  Any of them.  Or Justice Society.  Or guy that used to live in shed in swamp.  But Grundy digress.  Giving friendship second chance, does Bizarro want same?


Now I understand you completely, without question.  Last time you call me Biz, which clearly is not okay as was not said in my letter.  Then you further enlighten me with your eloquence and clarity in your reply.  I can tell exactly where you got the ideas you speak of in your missive.

Now that I have been able to make perfect sense of your words I want even less to do with you than ever.  You could well be the worst possible enemy for me.  The kind of enemy I would not have spent my life hoping not to find.  Difficultly put, I hate you already. 

Don’t write back ever,

See what I didn't do there?

If Grundy had patience it would be pushed to breaking point.  At last Legion meeting you hung around and joked and talked like old friend.  But letter say you want nothing to do with Grundy.  Confusion is order of day here.

It is difficult enough to be Grundy and have almost no friend.  Bizarro says one thing, means another.  If feelings were something Grundy had at disposal they would be hurt.  If friends then friends, if just working together to smash Super Friends that just as good.  Some of Legion don’t like Grundy and feeling is mutual.  Can’t understand why guys think Giganta hot.  Kind of plain to Grundy’s eyes.  And unnerving when growing big like Super Friend Chief.  Grundy never get used to that.  Is against nature!

Grundy is nothing if not patient.  Hard to believe given Grundy’s penchant for flying into fits of uncontrolled rage and decidedly out-of-character moments of clarity and eloquence, especially when penning correspondence like this particular specimen.  So, before this latest such incarnation should fade, I wish to extend another opportunity to reconcile the dichotomy of your past writings which stand in stark contrast to your recent behavior in person.  To that end Grundy not know what Grundy just wrote.  Must end writing now.  Hear old foe Green Lantern flying over swamp.  Want to throw dead trees at him and yell.

Solomon Aloysius Grundy
Gentleman of the Bayou

Again, Grundy not understand words clearly written by Grundy himself!

Just how smart are you?  How often do I need to difficultly write nothing before you understand how little I care about you.  I have never wanted an enemy like you in my entire existence.  I tried ignoring you at the meetings and that helped.  Or so I didn't think.  Then the postman did not leave your latest letter and I see that I made my point well.

This back and forth is so very welcome.  There are simply words for how certain everything is to me when you write.  I understand what is right with you, that much is uncertain.  I disagree with your desire to attempt to build the enmity between us, I really don’t care.

I will be avoiding you at every opportunity and you shouldn't do likewise.  Enemies is what we are, enemies and less.

With a lack of sincerity,

Editors Note:  It is at this point that a gap of one and a half months occurred in the flow of Bizarro and Grundy’s ongoing correspondence.  Originally this was taken to be the result of some of the original letters being lost or simply not in the possession of either super-villain when they were incarcerated.  The Florentine Films researchers, however, found through meticulous inquiry that the pause in communication between the two occurred during a time that Bizarro was frozen into the side of a glacier near the Fortress of Solitude and Grundy was languishing in an inert state between physical destruction and inevitable regeneration.  The letters resume briefly when each was again back in action.

I know it has been a short time since I didn't write.  I wasn't frozen in ice during the summer and thawed free just this winter.  Superman needs to keep his headquarters where it is so I don’t ever freeze my ass off when leaving him alone!

Now that I am my new frozen self, I don’t want to reestablish contact.  I don’t care what you have been up to.  I don’t ever want to see you or hear your name unspoken.

Enemies never,

I must admit that I too have been grossly indisposed for some considerable period of time.  Green Lantern, bemused by my use of decayed foliage as missiles some time ago, saw fit to scoop me up within an energy sphere and transfer me into the custody of one of the prisons suited to those with powers beyond those of mortal men like myself.  During this latest period of incarceration I feigned interest in rehabilitation so effectively that scrutiny of my person by my jailers lapsed and I was able to formulate a plan to reestablish my liberty and return to my swamp and service within  the Legion of Doom.

While this imprisonment did afford me the opportunity to enroll in speech and diction classes at the State’s expense, to great personal gain I might add, my focus never strayed from my intense desire to escape those who would hold me in their sway.  Alas, my bid for freedom was cut short by a laser cannon array installed by the prison after such time as the schematics I had been utilizing to plan my escape were drawn up, and I, yet again, found myself dead in action.

While I have made my standard return to the realm of the living and journeyed back to the swamps, I have suffered a crushing disappointment in discovering that the old headquarters has been abandoned and that the Super Friends are now known as the Super Powers and are concentrating on staving off advancements toward Earth by the forces of Darkseid.  This not withstanding, you should know that I stumbled on a dossier that Lex had compiled about you that was most enlightening.  I have been able to make sense of your seemingly random missives and realized that your disdain was in fact respect, your hatred love, and any expressed desire to see me, as you once put it at a meeting, “pulped and ground into a fine white paste” to in fact be your hope that I was in good health.

With this new found understanding of your unique approach to self-expression I sincerely believe that we shall be the best of friends.  Or perhaps I should say, the worst of enemies.  To this end I suggest we make team to fight all heroes that are found.  It seem Grundy, lacking constant reinforcement of grammar stuff from jail school now lapsing back into my Neanderthal-like means of talk.

Grundy want to meet soon to plan on smashing ex-Super Friends!


I hated to hear that you had lived only to wind up dead again.  It is terrible to have you around.  I don’t look forward to seeing you now that the Legion of Doom headquarters is open.  That was good news and most expected.  I know exactly what I will do from now on! 

I don’t like your stupid idea for parting company so we can show the Super Friends how much we love them.  Without you in my corner I can have the hardest time helping my friends that I want to see alive and well.  I would hate it if Batman were safely away from my clutches and without your help it is uncertain I will fail.  Batman is the strongest and most dangerous to me, so he must be the last on my list.

Don’t look for me in your swamp lair next week.  I have no plans to build the old headquarters now that it is fully occupied.  It makes me so happy that the rest of the Doomers told us all about the plans to move in to the headquarters.  It makes me want to fix up the place in the best way!  I hope you won’t join me in the construction I don’t have planned.


Trashing the old HQ really helped put Grundy back on the top of game.  Next day fight with Wonder Woman and that stupid purple monkey saw Grundy nearly winner.  Was still on high from smashing up Luthor’s precious laboratory and Brainiac’s favorite computer.  Why he call computer “son”, have no idea.  Stupid Christmas-light head green man!  He think smart, Grundy think dumb to leave big headquarters behind in swamp.  Left note that say, “We destroy your Doom house! – Super Friends”.  That make Luthor real mad Grundy bet!

Grundy realize we forgot discuss team-up to kill Super Friends.  Will visit your Plaza of Cacophony in desert soon.  We make that Legion of Grundy and Bizarro base and start hunting down Super Friends starting with Batman as Bizarro suggest in last letter.


Dearest Mr. Grundy,
Enclosed please find a map to my Plaza of Cacophony.  Your concept of using my sanctum sanctorum as a headquarters from which to launch strikes at our enemies was nothing short of brilliant.  I look forward to beginning a fruitful partnership that will see us at last revenged upon those who have wronged us for so very long.

(Editor’s note:  the above was type written with Bizarro’s handwriting following.  The reason for the abrupt change in both grammar and syntax and the nature of committing the thoughts to paper is made clear by the first handwritten sentence.)

I had to start the secretary I kidnapped from not writing more.  The less she wrote the less confused I got at how perfectly she took my dictation.  I can wait for you to get here and not plan for anything we don’t want to do to our best friends.  They will be thrilled when we come to make them not pay.  There will be so much to forget!

Don’t ever come here,

And thus ended the correspondence between these two villainous powerhouses.  As planned, Bizarro and Grundy pooled their resources and enjoyed some early victories in their campaign to destroy the super-heroes who had prevented their past schemes from being successful.  Quite full of themselves, the pair soon began to take credit for the conquests of other villains.  Despite being nowhere near the locales of major events in super-heroics, Bizarro vehemently claimed (or in his case quietly denied) having beaten Superman to death in (1992) and similarly Grundy was known to insinuate that he was Bane and subsequently the author of Batman’s crippling spinal injury (c. 1993). 

Other outrageous claims included Grundy’s assertion that he had bitten off Aquaman’s right hand and Bizarro’s insistence that he had discovered the Anti-Life Equation, though he flatly ignored a summons to Apokolips to present his findings to Darkseid.  Ultimately the two found themselves ostracized by the criminal fraternity and seemed destined to obscurity when the Infinite Crisis struck and they retroactively found themselves comfortably reestablished in the “New 52” universe.

"Invent me some waterproof paper and I'll be happy to write!"

Jedi Justifications - Hanging in the Air Exactly the Same Way Bricks Don't

Welcome to a new edition of Jedi Justifications.  After another lengthy hiatus, the series returns with a promised exploration of something that may have been logically troubling about the Star Wars universe! 

In case you were baffled by the title of this particular article, it is a quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy specific to the nature of the ships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet upon their arrival within Earth’s atmosphere.  Douglas Adams brilliantly applies his sarcastic wit to describing the nature of alien super science when it comes to allowing the ungainly spacecraft to hover in the air in defiance of gravity and aerodynamics.  While this quip does a remarkable job of conveying an image of titanic machines laying effortlessly on nothing but thin air, it struck me as being ideally suited to the justification at hand.  Specifically, how do the intergalactic vessels, large and small, of the Star Wars universe manage to routinely make planetfall or dart freely from solid ground into local airspace and ultimately into the stratosphere of any given planet and beyond in abject defiance of the laws of physics?

From the Rebellion’s fleet of X-Wing and Y-Wing fighters deployed from pyramids-turned-hangars on a moon of Yavin to the laterally symmetrical but decidedly awkward Imperial TIE Fighters, the martial spacecraft depicted in the Saga are ill-equipped against the forces of gravity and atmosphere.  Don’t even get me started on George Lucas’ “flying hamburger” when it comes to the aerodynamic challenges presented by that freighter’s design!  Simply put, these things have about as much chance of gliding lithely through air space as a cinder block.  So how exactly do these technological marvels achieve the opposite effect? 

If you have followed this series then you know that the number one rule of Jedi Justifications is that there has to be an on-screen (original trilogy and prequels) cue to refer (or defer) to in making my case.  Naturally since no one seems to question the particulars of planetary flight and aerodynamics during the course of the movies, this particular installment is going to rely on a tremendous amount of speculative physical engineering that draws from certain aspects of what is shown.  The foundation of all of this is something suggested by a line in A New Hope that provides a basis for all that will follow.  I am speaking of Han Solo’s command to “angle the deflector shields” when under attack by Imperial starships.  The ability to manipulate the specific configuration of countermeasures to laser attack is further underscored when Rebel X-Wing fighters approach the Death Star and the are admonished to utilize a “double front” arrangement.

So with this in mind one is given a hint at the versatility of the deflector shield itself.  In addition to being a lifesaver when your spacefaring vessel is under attack or suffering an inadvertent collision with debris out in the vacuum of the cosmos, the deflector shield is a vital piece of technology when planet-hopping as well.  A long standing staple of science fiction spacecraft, the implicit nature of the deflector shield is an invisible blanket of energy that is impenetrable by lasers or other forms of bombardment both natural and technological.  Furthermore, the way in which such a force field surrounds the vessel it is protecting can be altered in concentration and placement as suggested by the previous quotes.  Therefore it makes perfect sense that the deflector shield also serves a vital purpose when entering or exiting planetary atmospheres or traversing the sky once within the atmosphere itself.  How this is achieved is all about projection.

Imagine that the force field’s energy blanket is projected by generators located over the entire surface of a ship and configured to provide a uniform covering of protection.  Each generation point saturates a specific surface area above the actual hull and the effective range of each would overlap that of the next at its edges, creating a kind of quilted field of resistant energy.  Furthermore, the energy levels could be selectively boosted by redirecting the power from one array or set of arrays to another (hence the “double front” configuration).  Such malleability of practical application would allow for the force field to be reshaped as well as reconfigured.  By amplifying the power levels in specific ways, the form-fitting blanket that protects the ship in outer space could become aerodynamic in shape when making planet fall. 

For example take the Millennium Falcon and a TIE Fighter and surround each in a teardrop shaped bubble, the point of the drop face forward and the bulbous end to the rear of each.  This would be one configuration of a force field that would allow each to enter an atmosphere in much the same way a rocket or missile might.  Once the outer atmosphere is breached, the deflector array would alter the energy output  and “redraw” the bubble in a shape more akin to an airplane’s wings with a forward shape that allows the air to flow over the field in a way that it could not over the shape of the ship itself.  Such blanket of energy could be arranged in any necessary shape to allow for the best possible aerodynamics for any given situation.

An additional benefit of such technology is that the “shape” of the energy field has the potential to adapt to any situation.  Should a starship within a planet’s atmosphere encounter turbulence, the energy could be configured to adjust for changes in airflow in the way a genuinely aerodynamic vessel like an airplane cannot.  Lacking a static form, the energy field can be any shape or form necessary to maintain a smooth flight.  This allows for everything from the X-Wing Fighter (with wings open or closed), Cloud City’s trademark Twin-Pod Cloud Cars, the asymmetrical Millennium Falcon, and even the decidedly back-heavy Tantive IV to glide through the air like the most perfectly designed aircraft we know in our reality. 

I realize that this edition of Jedi Justifications reads a bit like the kind of post-Star Trek: The Next Generation necessity for scientific explanation of everything.  In a sense this was inspired by that imperative that applied to Rodenberry’s creation and, thankfully, is not as commonly applied to Lucas’.  The biggest inspiration came from the compliment of TIE Fighters that pursued the Millennium Falcon as Luke was being rescued.  While the vacuum of space allows one to “fly” anything from a jet fighter to a brick wall, it is a lot harder to achieve proper flight in a spherical pod flanked by two rigid walls!  The best part is that the principles outlined in this justification also allow you to make planetfall in the USS Enterprise and park her in an ocean!  

Whadjathink? - Maleficent

Vengeful Spirits

Catherine Houston and Bobby Blakey have been to the movies so it is Whadjathink? time again!

Summer brings us so many great movies that it is time again for another episode of Whadjathink?, the movie show that is like the drive home with friends after the show!

This episode focuses on Maeleficent, Disney's live action take on one of their classic fairy tale animated features, Sleeping Beauty.  Your hosts Catherine Houston and Bobby Blakey are joined by Catherine's cousin, David O'Rourke, for a compelling look at this rendition of a timeless story.  

JCU Sunday Funnies #62

Want to see Bobby Blakey's art and his own humor including the newly relaunched Last Stop?  Check out six years of the strip plus new material right here!

Own the first year of You Are Here in a collected edition (Your First Year Here) only $7.50 postpaid.  More details here.

Hey Kids, Comics #92 - HKC! Revisited: Faith in Four Colors

Welcome to the latest edition of our look back at the first Hey Kids, Comics! story arc, Comic Shop Confidential.  This episode revisits the weighty topic of religion and religious faith as portrayed in comic books.

From the Cult of Brother Blood to the whole question of how faith affects story telling in comics, Andrew Farmer and Cole Houston provide a thoughtful overview of the role that religion has played in the realm of comics.  Even ancient religions no longer practiced have their place as evidenced by the classical pantheons that run rampant in the pages of Marvel and DC comics.  This and more is discussed in the latest exploration of the early issues of this show.

You can check out the original episode (HKC! #4) here.

The Rantcor Pit Live #5 - The Force, Of Course...And Then Some!

Hello and welcome yet again to another episode of The Rantcor Pit Live!, the in-studio live edition of the JCU's Star Wars talk show that streams live every other Sunday morning from Deep Ellum on Air.

This week Cole Houston and Eddie Medina were joined in the studio by their first live show guest, Ray Perez, who brings a whole lot of irreverent humor to the mix.  Check out Cole's latest collection find and watch the fun as the topic of "The Force" is explored between many moments of complete off-topic derailing of the show!

JCU Sunday Funnies #61

Want to see Bobby Blakey's art and his own humor including the newly relaunched Last Stop?  Check out six years of the strip plus new material right here!

Own the first year of You Are Here in a collected edition (Your First Year Here) only $7.50 postpaid.  More details here.

Hey Kids, Comics! #91 - HKC! Revisited: Women in Comics

Welcome to another great issue of Hey Kids, Comics! in which the very first story arc, Comic Shop Confidential, is explored anew.  In this installment Andrew Farmer and Cole Houston return to the most popular issue of the show to date and take a second look at Women in Comics.

The role that women play in comics has been ever-evolving and that is rich subject matter that was worth a second look.  Andy gets vehement and the discussion is lively as your hosts cover the damsels in distress, the strong female leads, the archetypes, and the headline-grabbing controversies that are part of the history of women in comics.

You can check out the original episode (HKC! #3) here.

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