Monday, September 26, 2011

World's Greatest Comics : Iznogoud

This post has a sad genesis because Jean Tabary, the mastermind behind IZNOGOUD died last month. My story with the series begins long before it got it's own album series, back around 1974, when it was one of the many comics to grace the pages of MV COMIX, which started as a Disney only comic ( MickyVision ) but which later included all kind of other comics.

It's where I read my first ARCHIE comics

and my first SUPERMAN stories, back then of course drawn by the uncomparable Curt Swan back in the days when we hadn't to rack our brains with all this pre - crisis, post - crisis, pre - reboot, post - reboot nonsense and Jimmy Olsen had the necessary scientific know - how to build his own Man of Steel house robot.

I guess back when Jimmy Olsen traveled through time by sitting on a time bomb and desecrated Viking remains for fun this wasn't too much of a stretch. There were also other comics from DC that appeared in MV COMIX like BATMAN, LEGION OF SUPER - HEROES or this strange one with that Christopher Chance fella.

Hmm, I wonder where I have heard that name before.....Christopher Chance.....hmm, I don't know.

Back to Iznogoud, I already wrote a bit about the comic series in this post but for all new readers who have no idea who he is, IZNOGOUD ( wikipedia entry ) was written by Rene Goscinny and drawn by Jean Tabary who carried on alone after the death of Goscinny. While the Goscinny period was characterized by "albums" comprising several short-length tales each, Tabary turned the series in a new direction, by dedicating every new album entirely to a single story, larger and much more detailed, usually revolving around a new unique concept.

The stories revolve around Iznogoud ( pronounced "is no good" with a French accent ) who is the Grand Vizier to the Caliph Haroun El Poussah. But that´s not enough for Iznogoud who always tries to become " Caliph instead of the Caliph ".

To achieve this goal he uses every possibility which in the comic are always entertaining things like a calendar that allows it´s bearer to travel through time by ripping off the sheets or putting them back with glue, a puzzle that turns the person you think of when completing it into this puzzle, or other magics that allow him to switch bodies with the Caliph.

Of course the Caliph is totally unaware of this and believes Iznogoud to be his best friend who in turn never succeeds.

In fact in most of the cases he has to suffer the fate he intended for the Caliph and even if he manages to become Caliph instead of the Caliph it ends in total disaster for him.

A typical example is when the Grand Vizier discovers the " Road to Nowhere ", a road that only leads back to itself, and devises a plot to lure the Caliph there so he will become eternally trapped. In his excitement over the prospect to accomplish his life's mission, Iznogoud forgets that he needs an exit for himself. Another plan involves freezing the Caliph, which has to be shelved because there always seems to be some source of heat nearby. Iznogoud also attempts to enlist the services of a primitive computer (described as a very clever djinni) in order to find out the answer to his perennial ambition. The temperamental computer ends up sulking when Wa'at Alahf answers a complex mathematical equation before it can. In the end, the only answer Iznogoud gets is the solution to the equation. As in every Iznogoud story, Iznogoud is ultimately unsuccessful, and the Caliph continues his reign.

The stories have been translated into several languages, including English, and the title has been adapted to animated and one live - action film that is not spectacular but quite entertaining and the resemblance between the main actor and the cartoon character is really uncanny.

The publisher Cinebook Ltd is currently publishing English language translations of the books in the Iznogoud series.

After MV COMIX Iznogoud was published by Ehapa and later by Delta in the french album format which I couldn't afford with my small comic budget. And most of that was spent on superhero comics anyway. But thanks to a library ( and later on the library bus ) in my region that was well stocked with french BDs I could read most of them.

Thankfully french comics like ASTERIX, LUCKY LUKE, YOKO TSUNO and other are still considered to part of culture in Germany, at least the part you can find in libraries.

Doing the research for this post I found out that there are different covers for the various translated editions. In some cases it's just a redrawing of the original cover.

On this cover a running Iznogoud is replaced by a pretty exhausted one who apparently has been running for some time.

Here the changes in the redrawn cover are more elaborate. While in the first version Iznogoud is jumping on his faithful servant, in the new version he's just throwing a tantrum jumping in the air in a hissy fit. Maybe it's not as acceptable now to use his slaves to vent frustrations.

In the next case political correctness also may be a factor in the changes. Not only was the cover redrawn but the title of the album was also changed. In La tête de Turc d'Iznogoud Iznogoud aquires a magic puzzle that shows the head of a turk and when you finish it the person you think of is transformed into this puzzle and his face appears as the new picture.

In the first german version the title was translated quite literally as Isnogod und der Türkenkopf because not only did it show the head of a turk but because a puzzle is a brain exercise and Türkenkopf is the german word for the earliest chess automats and later on chess computers.

In 1769 austrian inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen constructed a chess automat, a box with a magnificently garbed ottoman puppet, therefore called " der Türke ". To prove that the inside only had mechanics, Baron von Kempelen willingly opened the three doors of his automat.

Friedrich the Great lost against this turk and even Napoleon had to admit defeat to the chess turk in 1804. The secret of the machine was lifted 80 years later : a midget was concealed in the automat. He knew which moves his opponent made from hidden magnets in the pawns and could move his pawns by a sophisticated lever mechanism. In case the doors were opened he just slided away from priying eyes on a comfortable stool.

Sadly this automat, that was exhibited around the world, was destroyed by fire in the museum of Philadelphia.

At the time of the second edition the word Türkenkopf was not political correct anymore so instead the title was translated correspondingly. In french the term tête de turc stands for a scapegoat, a double meaning that is lost in the german version so they chose the more literal Sündenbock.

So I hope I could get you interested in this really brilliant book and if you want to read more about the english version just head over to ComicBits Online ( which you can find on the blogroll ) by fellow blogger Terry Hooper.

Before we come to the end of the post about one of the best comics ever made, Today we also have three celebrity birthdays I want to mention : hot singer and actress Christina Milian who turns 30

german sexbomb Coleen Fernandes who also turns 30 ( coincidence ? )

and Lysette Anthony ( 48 ) who is the only reason Mel Brook's DRACULA - DEAD AND LOVING IT will be remembered in the next few decades !

A spoof of Coppola´s DRACULA movie it didn´t do much finacially and the only reason why it´s still on tv in reruns are the hot vampire babes in the movie. I mean female vampires have always been sexy but Lysette really takes it to a new level the way she squeezes her big talents together.

Holy motorboat, Batman ! I´d let her suck me any time she wants - as long as she doesn´t drink my blood, if you know what I mean. Although, for a chance to do her I would even give a pint of blood. Damned, indeed.

I bet Steven Weber had to relieve himself between takes and you know he deliberately botched his text so they had to do a lot of takes of the scene.

I know, some readers don't approve when I'm amping the babe factor on the blog too much but I want to remind people that there are still happy reasons to celebrate. Happy birthday, ladies and many happy returns !

Today's clip is from the english version of the IZNOGOUD cartoon show.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

weekend links extravaganza

Another weekend comes around so it's time for another linkfest for those readers who have too much time or haven't caught up with comic news these past few days. As with previous installments let's start with the DC section first since we have the most ground to cover there.


If you expected some news about the DC reboot, we'll come to that later - and in spades - but there are two more important things to cover first. There may be some people out there who haven't heard about the brilliant FRINGE tv show so contrary to what you might have heard the show is NOT just another version of the ultra successful X - FILES. Rather it's DC's concept of parallel earths transported into our real world. And to add another wrinkle there are invaders from a parallel earth who turn our earth into a test ground for their war machine.

I don't want to spoil more than that - there also will be more of that in spades later - but the show is really brilliant and has some of the best written and most fleshed out characters on tv ever. There have been some comics in the FRINGE universe before and so far I haven't read any of them but there is a new series which differs from the previous ones by the fact that it's written by Josh Jackson who plays one of the main characters, Peter Bishop, on the show. If you haven't seen last season's cliffhanger finale you shouldn't read the article but judging by the apparent enthusiasm of the production team for comics ( they went so far as to have comic artists of some reknown do variations of famous comic covers for a short scene in the parallel universe ) I'm sure it's more than a cheap gimmick. Especially since Josh Jackson affirms that I get to tell the pieces of the story that we didn't have time to tell, or just decided not to tell, last season. and Because it's a comic book, you can do bigger things than we can achieve on the show, budget-wise and scheduling-wise.

Looks like a must - read for FRINGE fans.


While the major part of DC is busy with rebooting their superhero universe for a new audience one of the most awaited graphic novels TEEN TITANS - GAMES is just a few days away from publication. To make the wait even more difficult here is an interview with writer Marv Wolfman about the long road to get this gem finally finished. There are also some preview pages ( higher resolution ) to give you an idea how brilliant it's going to be.

It may not the best idea of DC to publish this right now because it just reminds people how good the title could be. On the other side any new incarnation of the title sucks compared to this one no matter which creative team is on it. As a fan I'm just happy I can finally get my hands on it as I'm probably going to read it again and again until the DC universe gets rebooted back to the old continuity.


And speaking about DC's continuity the nice guys over at COMICS ALLIANCE have provided some articles about the continuity changes in FLASHPOINT 5 AND JUSTICE LEAGUE 1 as well as in the first week and the second week of the new titles released so far. By yhe way, " Danger , Will Robinson ! " from here on there will be massive spoilers !

While the big news are that GREEN LANTERN CORPS 1 shares a title with a Nazi propaganda film and Keith Giffen replacing T J Krull on GREEN ARROW , more reactions are available although with varying results.

COMICBOOK RESOURCES has asked non comic readers and readers to try out DC's new titles and after the results of week 1 and week 2 it seems that the goal of bringing in new readers was not achieved. On the other side the retailer report of the first week and the second week indicate that sales are good and comicshops main problem right now seems to be keeping the new books in stock to meet the customers demand. I have to say, one of the main reasons I'm going to wait for FLASHPOINT to be released in trade is that I haven't been able to find the single issues. And I'm not sure if there will be any number 1 issues of DC's new lineup available at my comicshop once I get back from Spain.

For those of you who, like me, can't get their hands on the new DC books here are new previews of BATMAN 1 , SUPERMAN 1


and new interviews with Tony Daniel about DETECTIVE COMICS 1 , Paul Cornell on STORMWATCH 1 and DEMON KNIGHTS , Brian Azzarello on WONDER WOMAN

and Kyle Higgins about NIGHTWING .

You know what they say, that different people have different taste. So I'm not sure how " on the point " the new reviews from COMICBOOK RESOURCES are since I have read reviews on the same book that go from " brilliant " to " totally sucks " from various sources. But here are their results, so you can make up your own mind : 5 stars ( from a possible 5 stars ) for BATMAN 1 and WONDER WOMAN 1 , 4.5 stars for BATWOMAN 1 and BIRDS OF PREY 1 , 4 stars for BLUE BEETLE 1 , DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS 1 , GREEN LANTERN 1 , FRANKENSTEIN AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E 1 and SUICIDE SQUAD 1 , 3.5 stars for DEATHSTROKE 1 , DEMON KNIGHTS 1 , RED LANTERNS 1 and RESURRECTION MAN 1 , 3 stars for BATMAN & ROBIN 1 , a measly 2 stars for SUPERBOY 1 , only 1.5 stars for GRIFTER 1 and a shocking 1 star for LEGION LOST 1 and MR. TERRIFIC 1 .

DC also released the solicitations for December 2011 .


In MARVEL news there is a new interview with Alan Heinberg on family matters in AVENGERS - THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE courtesy of USA Today and with Mark Waid on the lawyer side of Daredevil by Abnormal Use. New previews are available from AVENGERS ACADEMY 19 by Tom Raney, CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY 622

FF 9 by Steve Epting

and NEW AVENGERS 16.1 by Neal Adams. You can get the full Marvel preview list right here .

I have to say that I missed the point to jump on the AVENGERS ACADEMY train when was offering the first two hardcovers at a bargain price once again. You might think that I finally learned my lesson but lately I have just ordered too many comics from amazon so I can only hope that there will be another chance to get them at a price I can afford.

And since we are on topic of previews there are also new ones for B.R.P.D - HELL ON EARTH : RUSSIA 1 , THE GUILD - CLARA 1 and BIONIC MAN 2

and you can find the full list of previews on this link .


I really have to religiously read all blogs by Terry Hooper. Then I would have stumbled over his article about the death of Francisco Solano Lopez earlier. Yes, I already mentioned it on my last post but I was already wondering why there was no mention of this on the main blog. Terry always writes about the british comics that were reprinted in the german comic magazine KOBRA and Francisco Solano Lopez was the artist on KELLY'S MAGIC EYE

and one of the artists on MYTEK.

As I already mentioned in one of my posts, this is the part of the comic news I like the least because deaths of famous people always come in threes. The second great comic artist who died recently is spanish comic artist José Sanchis, one of the founding fathers of spanish comics like Ibañez and Vazquez. His best known comic is PUMBY

which graced the pages of famous spanish comic magazine TBO ( the spanish name for comics " tebeo " is taken directly from here ) but he also created El soldadito Pepe, El Capitán Mostachete, Record Boy, Robin Robot and Don Esperpento.

el pais - fallece a los 79 años José Sanchis, creador del gato Pumby - fallece José Sanchis, el padre de Pumby

my logroño de cristal - fallece José Sanchis, el padre de Pumby

feco España - José Sanchis y su personaje Robin Robot

The third one is french comic artist Jean Tabary most famous for his comic series IZNOGOUD or ISNOGUD, how it's called in Germany. As an avid readers ( and fan ) of the series there is a lot I could say about it but I think it deserves a post of its own. Tempus Fugit.

I already posted two travel reports from spanish comic fans to Germany and here's a third one this time by Pedro Angosto from MAN OF BRONZE the newest entry in my blogroll. One of the things that surprised him was that german's have much more respect for Earth 2 than Dan Didio as you can see by this statue dedicated to Jay Garrick.

Last but not least we have another interview with Mark Millar on the DC reboot and KICKASS 2 , Dark Horse reprints the MAJOR BUMMER trade Tom Pallardo has an interesting entry about Technology vs Cartooning : how Steve Jobs ruined comics , ONLINE COLLEGE COURSES has a list of 12 school tv shows where no one seemed to study , Ben Morse from THE COOL KID'S TABLE takes a look at Marvel's green giant in an unusual setting in Hulk in space and the newest entry of COMICBOOK LEGENDS REVEALED serves up the usual mix of comic oddness and greatness as well as a terrific comic about the life of Florence Nightingale who really made an impact on the world. And that's all for Today.

Today's video is the newest trailer for CAPITAN TRUENO Y EL SANTO GRIAL ( Thunder Captain and the Holy Grail ) which seems to finally arrive in cinemas after many delays.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So many comics so little money

Today it's about time to write about the comics I bought on Monday in Barcelona. This time I took my mother's mobile phone with me and the trip was not as catastrophic as my last one as I had more time.

Following my mother's directions instead of getting off the train at Barcelona Sants I stayed till Barcelona Estacion de Francia, which is the last stop of all trains going to Barcelona. From there on I walked in direction Arc de Triompf which is where the NORMA COMICS is situated. Just when I wasn't sure if I was going in the right direction I could see the triumphal arch a few meters ahead. Nevertheless, next time I'm taking the subway from Estacion de Francia.

Since I already had been to the NORMA COMICS shop, this time I went to the FREAKS comicshop which is in the next street running parallel because I wanted to get the new issue of DOLMEN - one of the best comic news mags ever. As usual I was totally flabbergasted when I entered the FREAKS shop. If you are into indie comics this shop has all the cool stuff you might ever need in your life. All the tables are just filled with tons of comics that are usually hard to find or even impossible to get.

American hardcovers, trades, art books, all kinds of comic publications and the spanish editions on top. Add to that the best of american superheroes in the spanish editions and you might understand why I seriously thought about moving in there permanently.

After what seemed like an hour it was time to think about which comics to buy. There were some hardcover black and white collections of the comics that were published in the german KOBRA comics like MYTEK, SPIDER, ROBOT ARCHIE, EYE OF KELLY or STEEL CLAW.

Those series were also published in Spain and one reason why they are still available in spanish comics shops is that some of them were drawn by spanish artists like Jesus Blasco ( Zarpa de Acero ) or argentinian artists like Francisco Solano Lopez ( El ojo magico de Kelly ) who died on the 13th this month at the age of 83 . You can find his last interview here .

Another comic I had to leave for another time was the hardcover collection of Neal Adams' DEADMAN series, not because of the price ( at 30 EUROs it was okay for such a big book ) but because it was just too big. I already knew that I was going to get two of these big hardcover collections from PLANETA DeAGOSTINI so I didn't want to go overboard.

And there was also the fact that I had to get them past my mother somehow. So instead I bought the DEADMAN by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez hardcover that collects the original 4 issue miniseries, issues 5 and 6 of the most recent series as well as all the covers from the DEAD AGAIN miniseries. A much smaller book and at 11.95 EUROS also much cheaper.

The next thing was to decide on which CLASSICOS DC hardcover I would get. I had thought I could get another one of Norm Breyfogle's Batman hardcovers but there were just too many to choose - at least without making a hard decision. One of the possible candidates was the second volume of Marv Wolfman and George Perez' TEEN TITANS run but there was also one that collected George Perez' JUSTICE LEAGUE issues.

I would have liked to get them both but since the comics in the JUSTICE LEAGUE collection were very early George Perez I decided to get the TEEN TITANS one. The only downside was that I had to buy it at NORMA COMICS since FREAKS didn't have it. There also were two volumes of George Perez WONDER WOMAN but I didn't want to start too many series.

Remember that last time I mentioned Gene Colan I said there should be a collection of his issues of Superman with the Phantom Zone story and his Wonder Woman issues ? Well, guess what. Here is Spain there is one. And I would have really liked to get it but again - a bit too expensive and too big for me although at 40 EUROS for 464 pages it's appropiate. Instead I got the JEMM SON OF SATURN collection ( 30 EUROS for 296 pages ) because I always had been curious about the series that in it's inception was supposed to be a book about J'onn J'onnz, everyone's favorite martian.

There also were some artbooks by Adam Hughes but I was more looking for reading material and the really small one was the most expensive because it was signed.

Last but not least I had to get the newest issue of DOLMEN which has an interesting article about PLANETA DeAGOSTINI loosing the rights to DC in Spain and Latin America. Apparently Planeta has been overflooding the spanish market with too many collections each month ( which I can believe just looking at the number of cool hardcovers I would like to get ) and DC always had a hard time selling in Spain. The new company that is going to publish DC in Spain and Latin America is El Catalogo a comicshop and packager with lots of ties to Planeta. For all those who don't know what packagers do : basically big comic companies delegate the part of making comics like translation, preparing everything for the printers, coming up with a layout etc to smaller companies.

In that regard El Catalogo has already been doing the hard part only up to this point they did it for somebody else. At this point there has been no official statement so there is no information if they really were not interested in publishing DC anymore. As always DOLMEN is on the forefront of comic news.

So now the first part of my comic buying spree was over - selecting what to get at FREAKS - and I went to NORMA COMICS to finally start spending some cash. Aside from the second TEEN TITANS hardcover I also bought the first installments of PANINI's new newsstand line MARVEL HEROES. In Spain there is always some unexpensive line that reprints older comics for the newsstands. Here at least they try to keep comics at the newsstands.

As the first parts of these series are normally pretty cheap I got SPIDERMAN - VUELTA A CASA ( JMS' first eight issues on Spider - Man for 4 EUROS )

and LOS CUATRO FANTASTICOS - IMAGINAUTAS ( Mike Wieringo's first five issues, two by Mark Buckingham and one by Stuart Immomen )

with CAPITAN AMERICA - LA LEYENDA VIVIENTE ( John Byrne's complete fantastic run on the book ) for 9.99 EUROS both together.

The next volumes are all priced at 9.99 each and the material is not new but as a line designed to cater more to the casual reader or the non comic reader it's pretty good. And I have to say I would really have liked to get a few more of them as they have such great stories like THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA,



and ARMOR WARS issues.

Like I said, not really the most recent stuff but a really high quality selection at a price german comic readers would kill for. I'm going out on a limb here but I don't think you'll see a similar line in Germany. At least not for 10 bucks.

Now that I had gotten more comics than originally planned it was time to find a KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN as they don't have them in Germany ( at least in the part where Neckarweihingen is ) but normally there are not so many people around and it was hard to find one. I also went to El Corte Ingles for the DVD of GREEN HORNET as my mother hadn't seen it yet.

This time I had a mobile phone to call home but the way back wasn't without it's difficulties as the trains were announced to leave on one rail while leaving on the opposite rail. I missed the first train and almost the second one too but I managed to run to the other side of the platform and jump on the train in the last minute. And before getting home we also got more beer. So all in all a pretty successful day.

I still haven't read any of the comics except some parts of the MARVEL HEROES books I read on the train as I atched the episodes of FRINGE and SMALLVILLE I missed last week. But I have read the first volume of Norm Breyfogle's BATMAN stories and they are just fabulous.

In memory of Solano Lopez Today's video is about EL ETERNAUTA his most famous comic written by Héctor Germán Oesterheld. It's pretty famous in Argentinia and the main caracter has become a political symbol.

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