Monday, December 05, 2016

“More of Gravy than of Grave” | A Christmas Carol: The Graphic Novel (2008)

Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

Sean Michael Wilson and Mike Collins' adaptation makes great use of their longer page count for this scene. For instance, the knocker gets several panels all to itself. As Scrooge approaches his front door, he pulls out his key and we see the knocker (shaped like a lion, which is also how Marvel had it). Then a turn of the page reveals a shockingly large image of Marley's ghostly face (with waving hair to represent Marley's independent atmosphere), followed by smaller panels of Scrooge rubbing his eyes and closely inspecting the knocker that has now returned to normal. It's a scary, effective sequence.

Inside, text reveals that the staircase was broad and mentions that Scrooge thought he saw a hearse drive up it. But there's no hearse in the art, just some misty lines suggesting that something may have passed that way and turned a corner at the top of the stairs. Again, very effective.

After Scrooge checks out his rooms, the text leaves us alone while he eats his gruel. There's a nice close up of the Dutch tiles on the fireplace, followed by a close up of Scrooge's worried eyes, then back to the tiles, which now all contain Marley's face. Without any text, it suggests that Scrooge is actually seeing Marley again on the fireplace, but after the hearse, there's enough doubt about Marley's senses that we can suspect his mind is playing tricks.

The bell sequence is also nicely done. There's just enough text to explain that the bell is disused, then the art and sound effects take over to create a cacophony of clanging that ends abruptly. As soon as that's done, the clanging is replaced by creaks and clanks. Panels of Scrooge's listening face are interspersed with images of the staircase: first empty with a ghostly glow, then a close up of spectral chains, then cash boxes being dragged up the stairs. It's all super creepy and ends with a giant, top-of-the-page panel of Marley's appearing in Scrooge's room.

Collins draws Scrooge as translucent, rather than transparent. A background detail will occasionally show through his body, but for the most part he looks solid with the same ghostly glow we saw coming up the stairs. His first panel is pretty cool, with a pose that reminded me of Jack Kirby, but a character design that has some Jack Davis in it. When Marley eventually pulls off his bandage, his jaw drops to an unnatural degree. Classics Illustrated had Marley gape-mouthed, but looking more or less like any slack-jawed mortal. Marvel gave Marley a supernaturally large gape, but it ended up looking silly. Collins' version is as horrifying as it should be.

Scrooge delivers his "gravy" pun without any humor (in fact, he looks serious and angry when he says it), but there's a great pause directly after that where a wordless panel just has Marley and Scrooge looking at each other as if Marley's not sure how to follow up Scrooge's joke. Nor does he ever figure it out, because Scrooge then breaks the silence with his observations about swallowing toothpicks. (In another nice touch, Scrooge tosses the toothpick into the fireplace when he's done talking about it.)

Marley's reaction to Scrooge's doubt of course is to rattle his chains and shriek horribly. It has the desired effect and Scrooge is adequately frightened the rest of the scene. I especially like a wordless panel of Scrooge's pitiful, worried face right after Marley's speech about "why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down?" Wilson and Collins work these little beats all through the comic so far. In this case, the effect is to show that Scrooge isn't just afraid of Marley, but seems also to be internalizing his message. He's still not at all excited about receiving three more spirits, but I feel like Marley's made more headway on this version than either Classics Illustrated, Marvel, or even Dickens'. The coming ghosts will keep the same schedule that Dickens had them on (one a night for three nights).

Oh! Something this version helped me notice is a partial answer to a question Joe raised in the comments the other day. It's in Dickens' text, too, but I missed the part where Marley says that Scrooge's chance and hope for redemption is "of my procuring." As the conversation continues, he clarifies that the "chance and hope" are the three ghosts, so apparently this is all something that Marley asked to happen and has orchestrated. That still doesn't answer the question of why Marley had to spend so much time sitting invisible next to Scrooge before finally being able to deliver his message, but it does reveal Marley to be more integral to these events than I often give him credit for.

After all the warnings and announcements, Marley silently wraps his jaw closed again, straightens his chains (love that bit), and flies out the window. Scrooge follows to see a full splash page of mournful spirits flying around with a small image of a woman holding a baby in the street below. There's no mention of their trying to help her, so it's a subtle image. But like all the other choices Wilson and Collins made in this scene, I quite like it.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

“More of Gravy than of Grave” | Marvel Classic Comics #36 (1978)

Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

Marvel's version does what I expected with the knocker-to-face transition. It's a knocker in one panel, Marley's face in the next, then a knocker again in the third. Nicely done.

Scrooge is visibly shaken, as in Dickens. But this version of Scrooge is already mentally unstable, and the effect of the ghostly knocker feels especially dangerous. The text mentions the width of the staircase and says that its size "is perhaps why Scrooge thought he saw a phantom hearse going up before him into the gloom." That's right out of Dickens, but then writer Doug Moench adds sinisterly, "And perhaps not."

Grammatically, "perhaps not" doesn't refer to Scrooge's seeing the hearse; it refers to why he saw it. And he clearly does see it, if we're to believe the art in that panel, which shows the sickly yellow hearse ascending the stairs. In Dickens, it's pretty clear that fear is playing tricks on Scrooge's mind, but the comic removes all doubt about what Scrooge is seeing and then directly questions Scrooge's mental state. Dickens claims that "Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley since his last mention of his seven-year's dead partner that afternoon," but if we accept the theory that Marvel's Scrooge is already somewhat unhinged, then it's not hard to imagine that being reminded of Marley by the solicitors may have done something to Scrooge. It's possible, then, that Marley's ghost is exactly what Scrooge is going to claim it is: an hallucination.

On the other hand, Scrooge's seeing ghostly carriages doesn't mean that he's not also being visited by a real ghost. It's also possible that Marley really did appear at the knocker, but his appearance snapped something in Scrooge and made him imagine the hearse. Moench allows that possibility in the next panel, when he adds that the darkness was "hardly the sort of lighting in which you'd trust your eyes." As much as I like the possibility that Scrooge's redemption is all the result of his own, damaged mind, that's clearly not what Moench and Company are actually going for. So I'm going to stick with my theory that Scrooge is ill, but accept that supernatural forces are working to heal him.

Upstairs, Moench's text mentions Scrooge's "meager" fire, but - as usual for this comic - the art contradicts the text and shows a roaring blaze (long before Marley's ghost has a supernatural effect on it). The fireplace does have tiles in which Scrooge imagines Marley's face, but they're introduced very abruptly and confusingly, with no mention of what they are or that they depict Biblical scenes.

When Marley does show up, he's definitely transparent and colored a similar yellow to the phantom hearse from earlier. The artist of this scene must not have ever seen another Christmas Carol adaptation though, because he wrongly draws Marley's bandage around the ghost's neck like a scarf. Which makes no sense when Marley does eventually pull it off and his jaw drops open to an unnatural degree. I guess the bandage was supposed to be holding the jaw up from the bottom instead of tying it to the top of Marley's head?

Moench pulls a lot of text right from Dickens, so he also makes it clear that Scrooge's humor in this scene is all about "merely trying to keep down his terror." That fits with what we've seen of this Scrooge so far. Unlike some other versions, there's been no levity in Marvel's Scrooge. And terror is certainly what Scrooge seems to be experiencing all through Marley's visit. He's angry for a bit when he's trying to convince himself that Marley is an hallucination, but mostly he's just terribly, terribly scared. As in Dickens, Marley's purpose is simply to frighten Scrooge into acknowledging that he might need to change. But Scrooge is neither convinced that he can nor determined to try.

Faithful to Dickens, this Marley puts the coming ghosts on a three-night schedule. Then he steps out of Scrooge's window to join a mist-obscured host of fellow phantoms. There's a panel where they're all trying to help a young mother, but weirdly, her need isn't food and warmth, but assistance with with her baby carriage that's overturned and tossed its contents out on its little, blonde head.

Alone again, Scrooge is still visibly shaken. In Dickens, he only gets the first syllable of "humbug" out. In Marvel, he's able to complete the word, but he's clearly not feeling confident about it.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

“More of Gravy than of Grave” | Classics Illustrated #53 (1948)

Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

Since we're starting with the comics, there probably won't be any knocker-to-face transitions to comment on. Comics would be especially good at no "intermediate process of change" simply by showing the knocker in one panel and Marley's face in the next. To contradict Dickens with an actual transformation would take multiple, precious panels. Classics Illustrated doesn't even show the two different looks of the knocker. The first time we see it, it's already got Marley's face. Although in the next panel, the face is gone again.

There's no mention of the hearse or the width of the stairs. And the one panel that shows Scrooge's ascent is angled so that we don't really get a good look at the stairs at all. But once Scrooge is upstairs, the comic does treat us a few panels of his checking out his rooms; even the "suspicious attitude" of his dressing gown.

His fireplace has no Dutch tiles, much less images of Marley inhabiting them, but Scrooge does still dwell on Marley's face as he eats his gruel (which a helpful caption box explains is "boiled cereal"). Scrooge gets up and paces a bit, restless in his fright.

I like how this version builds suspense with Marley's journey upstairs. As in Dickens, Scrooge hears sounds from the lowest levels of the house. One caption mentions that the clanking is coming from "deep down below," suggesting Hell as much as the cellar. But there's also a panel that shows the cellar (this one stores coal, not wine as in Dickens) with a couple of mice watching lines that represent either mist or the passing of some unseen being. There's a nice feeling of dread, especially considering how abbreviated this version is in other areas.

Marley moves into Scrooge's sitting room through the locked door and there's even a panel of him halfway through like Kitty Pride. Marley is colorless and see-through. Since the images are static, there's no personal wind or atmosphere around him that we can see, so we'll skip that for the comics. When he pulls off his bandage, his mouth does open to a natural degree.

Scrooge explains that he doubts his senses, but there's no humor in it. Even the gravy/grave pun is gone. All the dialogue is heavily abridged and there's even a panel with nothing but text that sums up the conversation. At the end, Marley schedules the coming ghosts as in Dickens: over a span of three nights.

Marley flies out through the window and Scrooge sees other phantoms, "many of whom had been known to Scrooge in their lives - all misers," but none of them are trying to help anyone else. The implication is simply that Scrooge is destined to become a ghost if he doesn't change. The comic doesn't sell the helplessness of that situation; turning into a phantom is supposed to be scary enough.

And that fits this portrayal of Scrooge so far. As we noticed earlier, this Scrooge isn't actually miserable. He's just a mean, proud man who seems to resent getting old. Which makes Marley a reminder of Scrooge's mortality. Marley's visit shakes Scrooge, but there's no sign yet that Scrooge is ready to change anything. He sees the coming ghosts as something scary and unpleasant to be mandatorily endured, not as an opportunity to learn anything.

Friday, December 02, 2016

“More of Gravy than of Grave” | Dickens

Illustration by John Leech.

Borrowing from Siskoid's format on his Hamlet blog, as we look at Dickens' text, I'm going to copy the entire text of the section in bold italics and insert commentary. That'll help identify elements that we want to pay attention to in the adaptations.

Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a fact, that Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the City of London, even including -- which is a bold word -- the corporation, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley, since his last mention of his seven-year's dead partner that afternoon. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change: not a knocker, but Marley's face.

That bit about no "intermediate process of change" is noteworthy, because my favorite versions do just the opposite. To me, it's spookier to watch the knocker morph into Marley's face than just abruptly switch in an eye-blink. I'll take note of how the change is portrayed in the various adaptations.

Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up upon its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot-air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression.

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

I'm always curious about Marley's methods here. There won't be much of this to comment on in the adaptations, but it's interesting to think about what Marley's trying to achieve. Is his appearance at the knocker a first attempt at communication? Or is he just trying to unsettle Scrooge? And if it's the latter: to what purpose? Marley's scary enough without going out of his way to be freaky.

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.

He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before he shut the door; and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the sight of Marley's pigtail sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he said "Pooh, pooh!" and closed it with a bang.

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above, and every cask in the wine-merchant's cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up the stairs, slowly too: trimming his candle as he went.

The mention of the wine-merchant's cellars reminds me that Scrooge doesn't own this whole house. He leases rooms in it, but it's mostly occupied by businesses. Most - if not all - the adaptations ignore this and just give Scrooge the whole place.

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Parliament; but I mean to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broadwise, with the splinter-bar towards the wall and the door towards the balustrades: and done it easy. There was plenty of width for that, and room to spare; which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom. Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn't have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge's dip.

Quick note about Scrooge's "dip." That's referring to his candle, which was of course made in those days by repeatedly dipping the wick in melted wax.

As for the hearse, I think this is more Scrooge's imagination than an actual supernatural occurance, but we can see if any of the adaptations pick up on it. The George C Scott version liked the visual enough to move it outside for Scrooge's walk home.

Might be fun to see if any versions give the house an unusually wide staircase. My bet is that most of them make the house seem more dismal by making the staircase narrow.

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that: darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do that.

Sitting-room, bed-room, lumber-room. All as they should be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the sofa; a small fire in the grate; spoon and basin ready; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge has a cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire-guard, old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and a poker.

I love the image of Scrooge going through his house, making sure he's alone.

The gruel, as Dickens mentions, isn't Scrooge's dinner. He already had that at the tavern. This is just some boiled oatmeal or something that he's taking for warmth before bed. It's a strong visual though, so a lot of versions - particularly the ones that skipped the tavern scene - imply that this is all Scrooge allows himself to eat.

The "hob" that Scrooge's saucepan sits on is a little shelf (usually made of stone or iron) in the fireplace. People put things on it to keep them warm. You can see Scrooge's in the illustration above.

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and his night-cap; and sat down before the fire to take his gruel.

Some versions go crazy with the locks, either for humor or to increase the tension.

It was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a bitter night. He was obliged to sit close to it, and brood over it, before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel. The fireplace was an old one, built by some Dutch merchant long ago, and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures. There were Cains and Abels, Pharaoh's daughters, Queens of Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through the air on clouds like feather-beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats, hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts; and yet that face of Marley, seven years dead, came like the ancient Prophet's rod, and swallowed up the whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first, with power to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have been a copy of old Marley's head on every one.

Some adaptations have the tiles, but not all. And I think I remember at least one that puts Marley's face on them. Like with the hearse though, I'm pretty sure that this part is just Scrooge's imagination.

"Humbug!" said Scrooge; and walked across the room.

After several turns, he sat down again. As he threw his head back in the chair, his glance happened to rest upon a bell, a disused bell, that hung in the room, and communicated for some purpose now forgotten with a chamber in the highest story of the building. It was with great astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he looked, he saw this bell begin to swing. It swung so softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound; but soon it rang out loudly, and so did every bell in the house.

Pretty much all the adaptations have this, but it might be fun to keep track of how many bells each includes.

This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but it seemed an hour. The bells ceased as they had begun, together. They were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down below; as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine-merchant's cellar. Scrooge then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as dragging chains.

The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door.

"It's humbug still!'" said Scrooge. "I won't believe it."

His colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, "I know him! Marley's Ghost!" and fell again.

What's scarier: Marley passing through a locked door or the door opening on its own to allow him entrance? Adaptations have differing opinions about this.

I'm guessing that not many versions mention the fire's acting strangely, but that was a common superstition about ghosts. Brutus even notices it in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (Act IV, Scene 3).

The same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His body was transparent; so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.

Some adaptations have Marley being transparent, but not all. I wonder if that's entirely a budget decision or if there's some artistic reason to making him solid.

Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now.

The bowels were thought of as the place where emotions came from, so this is similar to calling Marley "heartless."

No, nor did he believe it even now. Though he looked the phantom through and through, and saw it standing before him; though he felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes; and marked the very texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin, which wrapper he had not observed before; he was still incredulous, and fought against his senses.

People often tied the dead's jaws closed with a bandage to keep the mouth from opening. So this is Marley as he appeared after death.

"How now!" said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. "What do you want with me?"

"Much!" -- Marley's voice, no doubt about it.

"Who are you?"

"Ask me who I was."

"Who were you then?" said Scrooge, raising his voice. "You're particular, for a shade." He was going to say "to a shade," but substituted this, as more appropriate.

"To a shade" means "to a degree." Not Dickens' greatest pun.

"In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley."

"Can you -- can you sit down?" asked Scrooge, looking doubtfully at him.

"I can.'

"Do it, then."

Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't know whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair; and felt that in the event of its being impossible, it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation. But the ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used to it.

"You don't believe in me," observed the Ghost.

"I don't," said Scrooge.

"What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?"

"I don't know," said Scrooge.

"Why do you doubt your senses?"

"Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"

Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.

Some of the versions have already given Scrooge a sense of humor, if a dark one. I don't know how much more I want to comment on that in this scene, but it might be worth noticing how he delivers this line. Is he whistling in the dark or genuinely a funny guy?

To sit, staring at those fixed, glazed eyes, in silence for a moment, would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce with him. There was something very awful, too, in the spectre's being provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own. Scrooge could not feel it himself, but this was clearly the case; for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven.

Hence the blowing hair at the door knocker. I don't remember many adaptations including this element during Marley and Scrooge's conversation, but we'll see.

"You see this toothpick?" said Scrooge, returning quickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned; and wishing, though it were only for a second, to divert the vision's stony gaze from himself.

"I do," replied the Ghost.

"You are not looking at it," said Scrooge.

"But I see it," said the Ghost, "notwithstanding."

"Well!" returned Scrooge, "I have but to swallow this, and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins, all of my own creation. Humbug, I tell you; humbug!"

At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that Scrooge held on tight to his chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon. But how much greater was his horror, when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm to wear in-doors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!

Some versions have Marley do this at the beginning of the conversation. The easier to speak, I suppose. Adaptations vary widely about the jaw-dropping part.

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before his face.

"Mercy!" he said. "Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?"

"Man of the worldly mind!'' replied the Ghost, "do you believe in me or not?"

"I do," said Scrooge. "I must. But why do spirits walk the earth, and why do they come to me?"

"It is required of every man,'" the Ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"

Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain, and wrung its shadowy hands.

"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

Scrooge trembled more and more.

"Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!"

Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see nothing.

I love this whole thing about the chain: the idea that we're spiritually shackled to whatever's most important to us in life, and that Scrooge has trouble understanding that it's a metaphor. I fear that my own chain is made of reels of film and DVDs. I may have something to learn from Marley, too.

"Jacob," he said, imploringly. "Old Jacob Marley, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, Jacob."

"I have none to give," the Ghost replied. "It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men. Nor can I tell you what I would. A very little more, is all permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house -- mark me! -- in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before me!"

The "other regions" from which comfort comes are of course Heaven. That's not where Marley's from and it's not his job to comfort Scrooge. He's here to scare some change into his old partner.

It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became thoughtful, to put his hands in his breeches pockets. Pondering on what the Ghost had said, he did so now, but without lifting up his eyes, or getting off his knees.

Speaking of change, I want to start tracking Scrooge's journey to redemption. This is the start of it and it begins with fear, but there will be other tactics as well used by other ghosts before coming back to fear again at the end. When does Scrooge make the decision that he wants to be a better person? Which tactic is the most effective? Different versions have different answers to those questions.

"You must have been very slow about it, Jacob," Scrooge observed, in a business-like manner, though with humility and deference.

"Slow!" the Ghost repeated.

"Seven years dead," mused Scrooge. "And travelling all the time?"

"The whole time," said the Ghost. "No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse."

"You travel fast?" said Scrooge.

"On the wings of the wind,'" replied the Ghost.

"You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years," said Scrooge.

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance.

"Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed," cried the phantom, "not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunities misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!"

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faultered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.

"At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said, "I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!"

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly.

"Hear me!" cried the Ghost. "My time is nearly gone."

"I will," said Scrooge. "But don't be hard upon me! Don't be flowery, Jacob! Pray!"

Scrooge has already admitted that he believes that Marley is real and not just a hallucination. Now he's expressing a willingness to at least listen to whatever lesson Marley is here to teach. So, in Dickens at least, fear may not be doing the entire job of changing Scrooge, but it's at least opening Scrooge to the possibility that something is horribly wrong.

"How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see, I may not tell. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day."

I like that Marley's not entirely sure how all this works either. He's been wanting to communicate with Scrooge, but is just now able to, for some reason that he doesn't know.

It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shivered, and wiped the perspiration from his brow.

"That is no light part of my penance," pursued the Ghost. "I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer."

"You were always a good friend to me," said Scrooge. "Thank'ee!"

"You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost, "by Three Spirits."

Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's had done.

"Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?" he demanded, in a faltering voice.

"It is."

"I -- I think I'd rather not," said Scrooge.

Scrooge is willing to consider that there might be something in him that needs changing, but not if it's going to involve suffering.

"Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, when the bell tolls One."

Makes sense so far. It's before midnight on Christmas Eve, so the first ghost is coming at 1:00 am on Christmas morning. It's about to get complicated, though.

"Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?" hinted Scrooge.

"Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us."

I've never understood this part. Why spread this out over three days? According to the schedule that Marley lays out, Scrooge will be finished on the morning of December 27. What's the point of that?

Of course, the visits don't end up sticking to Marley's schedule, so whatever the point, it's a moot one. But most of the adaptations wisely drop this and just have Marley predict one night of visits.

When it had said these words, the spectre took its wrapper from the table, and bound it round its head, as before. Scrooge knew this, by the smart sound its teeth made, when the jaws were brought together by the bandage. He ventured to raise his eyes again, and found his supernatural visitor confronting him in an erect attitude, with its chain wound over and about its arm.

The apparition walked backward from him; and at every step it took, the window raised itself a little, so that when the spectre reached it, it was wide open.

It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which he did. When they were within two paces of each other, Marley's Ghost held up its hand, warning him to come no nearer. Scrooge stopped.

Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear: for on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory. The spectre, after listening for a moment, joined in the mournful dirge; and floated out upon the bleak, dark night.

Scrooge followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity. He looked out.

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.

This is a powerful bit, especially that last sentence. It's sad, but understandable, that a lot of adaptations cut it. But not all of them do.

Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded them, he could not tell. But they and their spirit voices faded together; and the night became as it had been when he walked home.

Scrooge closed the window, and examined the door by which the Ghost had entered. It was double-locked, as he had locked it with his own hands, and the bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say "Humbug!" but stopped at the first syllable. And being, from the emotion he had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse of the Invisible World, or the dull conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness of the hour, much in need of repose; went straight to bed, without undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant.

"Dull" conversation in this case refers to the monotonous tone of it, not that Scrooge was bored. (Dickens apparently imitated this tone of the ghosts' dialogue whenever he read A Christmas Carol to audiences.) The conversation has clearly had an effect on him and even though he wants to disbelieve and dismiss it, he can't.

So here's what we're looking for this year:

  • The knocker-to-face transition
  • Do any adaptations have the hearse going up the stairs? What other ways to they convey Scrooge's unease? How wide are those stairs, anyway?
  • Does it seem like Scrooge owns the whole house?
  • Is gruel Scrooge's only meal of the day? How does he react to it? Any hint of a cold?
  • How many locks are on Scrooge's door? Does Marley open the door before coming through?
  • Does Scrooge's fireplace have Dutch tiles? Does he see Marley’s face on them?
  • How many bells announce Marley's arrival?
  • Does Scrooge’s fire do anything weird when Marley shows up?
  • Marley's appearance. Is he transparent? Does he have a personal wind or atmosphere around him? Does he pull off his bandage? How does that affect his jaw? Does he speak in monotone?
  • Does Scrooge have a sense of humor or is he just trying to distract himself with humor?
  • What bits of the conversation are cut? Why do we think they are?
  • Does Scrooge start to change as early as this scene? How does his characterization here compare with how he acted in the office?
  • What schedule does Marley put the ghosts on: three nights or one night?
  • Does Scrooge see Marley join other phantoms outside? If so, are they trying to help someone?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Christmas Carol Project | “More of Gravy than of Grave”

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, which means that it's also time to get back to our annual look at everyone's favorite Christmas/ghost story, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. If you're new to this, the idea is to pay attention to the way Scrooge's story has been interpreted and adapted to other media over the years. I’ve broken the story into scenes (or sometimes parts of scenes) in order to look at their translation to 19 different films, TV shows, and comics.

Here's the list of adaptations in the order I'll take them:

• Classics Illustrated #53 (1948)
• Marvel Classics Comics #36 (Marvel; 1978)
• A Christmas Carol: The Graphic Novel (Classical Comics; 2008)
• A Christmas Carol (Campfire; 2010)
• "A Christmas Carol" in Graphic Classics, Vol. 19: Christmas Classics (Eureka; 2010)
• Teen Titans #13 (DC; 1968)
• A Christmas Carol cartoon (1971) starring Alastair Sim
• The Stingiest Man in Town (1978) starring Walter Matthau
• Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) starring Scrooge McDuck
• A Christmas Carol (2009) starring Jim Carrey
A Christmas Carol (1910) starring Marc McDermott
Scrooge (1935) starring Seymour Hicks
A Christmas Carol (1938) starring Reginald Owen
Scrooge (1951) starring Alastair Sim
"A Christmas Carol" episode of Shower of Stars (1954) starring Fredric March
Scrooge (1970) starring Albert Finney
A Christmas Carol (1984) starring George C. Scott
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) starring Michael Caine
A Christmas Carol (1999) starring Patrick Stewart

Annual Disclaimer: This obviously isn’t an exhaustive list. I started with my favorites, added some that people have recommended over the years, and then threw in some others that just caught my curiosity. We can talk about the ones I left out, but I will say that the reason Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol isn’t here is because I hate it with a passion. It’s neither a good Christmas Carol nor a good Mister Magoo cartoon. There’s also no Scrooged or An American Christmas Carol or Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. When I first started this, I tried to stick to more or less faithful adaptations, but even though I've since added Teen Titans to the list, I'd rather that be a fun exception and not have to figure out where I'm going to draw the line.

This is going to take years. Every December we'll look at one scene, starting with Dickens' version, then exploring individual adaptations of that scene in the days leading up to Christmas. After some lighter scenes the last couple of years, this year's is a big one. We're meeting Marley and finally kicking the plot into gear.

The fun starts tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Harlan Ellison and Sword & Sorcery [Guest Post]

By GW Thomas

I am going to admit I’m not much of a Harlan Ellison fan. He’s much too literary for my tastes. I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I like space opera, sword-and-sorcery, and other forms of adventure fantasy; told in a straightforward way and quickly paced. That’s not what Ellison writes. This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate the man. I have found his observations on Hollywood very entertaining and informative. I admire his work as an editor on the Dangerous Visions and Medea anthologies. I’ve read his work in comic book form many times. I’ve even read some of his stuff over the years, such as “The Chocolate Alphabet,” twenty-six flash fiction pieces he wrote while sitting in a store window. (The one I liked best was “D is for Dick,” where he described Philip K Dick as a strange creature that lives in a hole writing masterpieces that nobody appreciates.) Ellison is often ahead of the curve. And he’s feisty. Who else but Ellison would go to a national Star Trek convention and begin a speech by saying Doctor Who was the greatest SF show ever made? That takes kahunas, brother. Giant brass ones. And Ellison has them. All this aside, I don’t read his fiction much.

Which is my loss, because if I had ever finished reading The Deathbird Stories (1975) I would have come to “Delusion For a Dragonslayer.” I had no idea that Ellison even noticed sword-and-sorcery in the 1960s. The only time I had ever heard him refer to the Big Three of Weird Tales (Lovecraft, Howard, and Smith) was when he selected Clark Ashton Smith’s “The City of the Singing Flame” as a story that inspired him to be a writer. This surprised me because I thought his influences would all be non-fantasy authors like Ray Bradbury or Ted Sturgeon.

Now the only reason I stumbled across this at all was because of comics. Ellison would like that as he loves and collects comics. He can’t be all Anais Nin and Ayn Rand if he collects Batman and Uncanny X-Men. So there it was... a comic book adaptation in Chamber of Chills #1 (November 1972). It didn’t surprise me to find a sword-and-sorcery story there – that was exactly what I was doing at the time: cruising the horror mags for sword-and-sorcery stories. House of Mystery to Dr. Graves, they all have a few sword-and-sorcery stories in them, especially in the years 1973-75. The Warren magazines and independents had gone through a similar phase in 1966-72. Sword-and-sorcery has enough horror elements in it that this was where the first experiments in short, 5-10 page strips were tried. So this didn’t surprise me. But Harlan Ellison? That surprised me.

Now Ellison’s story originally appeared in Knight (September 1966), a men’s magazine. Alongside the “nekkid ladies” were stories by Brian W Aldiss and John Steinbeck. The cover features Ellison’s story and was done by Leo and Diane Dillon, who would do future Ellison covers like The Deathbird Stories. By all appearances, I had stumbled onto a little bit of Weird Tales-style fantasy in a dirty magazine.

The plot concerns Warren Glazer Griffin, an office worker who gets killed by a demolition accident. Griffin wakes up in heaven, but as the old wizard next to his herculean barbarian body explains, the world is of Griffin’s design and he must fulfill the implied quest of sailing to an island, slaying the monster, and saving the girl. The sailors all chain themselves to their rowing benches and rely on Griffin to navigate them past the siren colors. He does this, then wrecks the ship, because he is too busy admiring his new body.

Washed ashore, he finds the island he has been seeking. With almost no regret or conscience at the death of his crew, Griffin finds a beautiful woman lounging by a waterfall. She is the epitome of all the women he has ever desired. Out of the mist, a fourteen-foot mist giant appears, then becomes more human in shape. Griffin is immobilized by terror and can’t confront the beast. The woman and monster get down to business (let’s remember what kind of magazine this is, after all) and Griffin uses the distraction to stab the monster in the back. Monster defeated, he claims the woman as his reward. His lust satisfied he realizes he has not won heaven at all, but that his dreams are superficial and childish, and a dragon forms from his cowardice and angst devours him. Cut back to the real world. Warren Glazer Griffin’s body has been crushed by the wrecking ball, but every bone has been broken like he was devoured by a monster.

Much of this scenario is familiar, and I think on purpose. The ship and sirens smacks of Ulysses (not Conan), though the rest could be more Howard. I felt more like the hero was John Eric Stark of Leigh Brackett creation, but I guess it doesn’t really matter. We all know the type of tale, from Beowulf to Masters of the Universe. This tale of the macho barbarian is told in an ornate style that reminds me at times of Clark Ashton Smith. For example his description of killer colors: “In a rising, keening spiral of hysteria they came, first pulsing in primaries, then secondaries, then comminglings and off shades, and finally in colors that had no names. Colors like racing, and pungent, and far-seen shadows, and bitterness, and something that hurt, and something that pleasured...” This goes on for many more sentences.

It is a rather artsty fartsy way to tell an adventure story, but it’s not an adventure story really. It is a story with a point: that the dreams of fourteen year-old boys are lustful, childish, and ultimately unrewarding. This may be a bigger poke at fanboys than anything Fredric Brown ever wrote. If we assume that Ellison is saying that people who read sword-and-sorcery are as unworthy as Warren Glazer Griffin, then I guess this is an anti-sword-and-sorcery story.

My first guess before even reading the story was that Ellison was going to be slagging sword-and-sorcery. He would not have been alone. Ron Goulart, Larry Niven, and even Andrew J Offutt (before Andy would become one of the top sword-and-sorcery writers of the 1980s) have disparaged the legacy of Conan. Was Ellison jumping on their bandwagon? I don’t really think so. And I don’t think Ellison is trying to skewer Conan fans. There were suddenly many new ones around 1966 with the new Lancer paperbacks, but most of these lie in the future, as are the Conan the Barbarian comic fans. Instead, I think Ellison may be remembering his own teenage fantasies and enjoyment of hero tales. Ellison was fourteen in 1948 or so, about the time Leigh Bracket was queen of the space pulps. Robert E Howard was becoming a dim memory then. Remember, I thought of Stark, not Conan. Maybe Ellison was thinking of “Lorelei of the Red Mist” from 1941 by Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury. The main character’s named is Conan. More likely he was thinking of “The Enchantress of Venus” (1949) that begins with John Eric Stark on a Venusian sailing ship. Maybe he was writing about how he had to grow past such stories and become a “speculative fiction writer.” As such, I can appreciate the story better than a sad reductionist parody.

Looking at the Chamber of Chills comic adaptation is interesting. The comic story was adapted by Gerry Conway (who would script Conan the Destroyer with Roy Thomas in 1984) and the art was provided by Syd Shores. Conway’s script strips off Ellison’s five dollar flowery phrases and its sexual content, leaving us with little but the bones. The final “surprise” is no surprise to anyone familiar with “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” I don’t know what Ellison’s feelings were about the adaptation, but it is a perfect example of how adapting a heavy work can result in a much smaller product. Without Ellison’s words the piece is no different than any of the others in the comic series. The emotional payoff at the end is gone and the plot is largely pointless. Just another guy-I-don’t-care-about dreams big, then gets squashed. It doesn’t even have the crutch of blaming it all on Dungeons & Dragons like so many stories in the 1980s. The final irony is that the writer who was so good at fantastic tales with a sting of emotional irony at the end was Leigh Brackett. In a story like “The Woman From Altair” (1951) which ends on a bitter note, Leigh could have the hero win, but leave a bittersweet taste in the reader’s mouth. Maybe Ellison meant something similar. If so, his hand is too heavy while his over poetic words are distracting. It’s like Clark Ashton Smith rewriting Leigh Brackett.

Finally, I wonder how I would have reacted to this story back in High School where I first encountered The Deathbird Stories? I was a solid Edgar Rice Burroughs-Robert E Howard fanatic then. That fourteen year old me with the fourteen-old fantasies. If I had been able to wade through Ellison’s prose (which is doubtful) I am sure I would have reacted badly to his message. As a fifty-three year old I can see things a little differently. But I still don’t know if I agree with Ellison’s dark message. The hero tale is as old as time and it does more than belittle women and hide cowardice or whatever angsty worries Ellison had back in 1966. Christopher Booker and Joseph Campbell and even JRR Tolkien would back me up on this. I think sword-and-sorcery is worthy of our time. Like all fiction, the best examples are pure gold while the worst hackwork is abysmal trash (Sturgeon’s Law). And maybe Ellison would agree with me now at 82-years-old. Or maybe I missed the point and will have to read “Delusion For a Dragonslayer” again and again until I get it. But a re-re-re-re-read of “The Tower of the Elephant” or “The Enchantress of Venus” is much more likely, and ultimately, more satisfying.

GW Thomas has appeared in over 400 different books, magazines and ezines including The Writer, Writer's Digest, Black October Magazine and Contact. His website is He is editor of Dark Worlds magazine.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Junk Box: MIMP Comics [Guest Post]

By GW Thomas

You’re a grown-ass man and you’re not supposed to play with toys. But like any good fanboy I have my favorites. My thark from Trendmasters (1995) and my various Godzilla bendies, but the rest - old eBay failures and such - I keep in The Junk Box. It’s not really junk. Just an old carton from the liquor store. (In Canada, when you move, you go to the liquor store for empty boxes. We must look like a nation of itinerant alcoholics!) Anyway, let’s take a look inside... THE JUNK BOX!

In this age of Pokemon Go, it may be hard to remember that monster collectors existed before 1995 when Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sagimori created the phrase: “Gotta Catch’em All!” But in 1989, Morrison Entertainment Company, run by two former Mattel executives, Joe Morrison and John Weams, offered the world its own series of collectible critters with Monster in My Pocket (known as MIMP by fans): thirteen collections of rubbery toy creatures to buy and collect. The toys were small, soft, plastic, single-color figures manufactured by Matchbox. The idea was not new. A Japanese company, Kinnikuman had started a small figure line in 1979 called MUSCLE, based on a manga. These fighters were muscular wrestlers that look monstrous at times. Like MIMP, it had dozens of figures to collect.

MIMP started small with only forty-eight creatures, but grew quickly. The creatures included everything from Universal monsters like Vampire and Mummy to dinosaurs to creatures of legend such as Nessie and Spring-Heeled Jack to some pretty obscure mythological critters like Yama and Hanuman. Some of the deities they chose are still worshipped today and got the toys in trouble in certain Asian countries. Here's a complete list. In the end, over two hundred monsters were released. The series would span other media such as a board game, breakfast cereal prizes, trading cards, a video game, animated cartoons, and other tie-ins.

One of these other products was a four-issue comic book produced by Harvey Comics (recently resurrected, but not for long) in 1991. The comic was written by ex-Marvel writer, Dwayne McDuffie. McDuffie worked on Damage Control, a humorous superhero comic with artist Ernie Colon. Like Damage Control, the tone of Monster In My Pocket is tongue-in-cheek with bad puns. It should be no surprise that the premiere issue was drawn by Ernie Colon, of Richie Rich and Arak, Son of Thunder fame, now returned to Harvey. The next three issues were done by the Cover Master, Gil Kane. Ernie may have done only the first issue because he had begun Bullwinkle & Rocky for Star Comics. Gil Kane may have stepped in, having a vacancy after leaving DC, and had not yet started the Jurassic Park comic for Topps. Whatever the reason, the comic got top-notch artists who could handle the plethora of characters.

The first issue begins with two warring factions of monsters, one lead by Vampire and the other by Warlock. At a convention of creatures, the two factions are supposed to vote democratically to see who will rule. Warlock sees he is going to lose, so he casts a spell that sends the monsters into our world, where they appear to be living toys. This kind of Us vs Them plotting is typical of most toy product stories, such as Transformers, GI Joe, and Masters of the Universe. And we know it from movies like Small Soldiers (1998). In this first tale, we meet Jack and Tom Miles, brothers who end up with the monsters living in their house. Subplots revolve around their parents not finding out and the enemy monsters invading the house.

Issue Two has the boys take the monsters to school. It is their hope that Dr. Jekyll can create a formula that will undo the spell. Jack has been skipping Chemistry class and so the Invisible Man (a chemist by trade) does his homework for him. The baddies show up and force-feed Jekyll his formula, turning him into Hyde. They try to recruit the evil Hyde for their side but the Good Guys turn him back to Jekyll with another dose. From this we can see that McDuffie is not a stickler for monster lore, as a second dose would do nothing of the sort. He may have been embracing all the Jekyll and Hyde material from the original to Bugs Bunny cartoons. This is unfortunate, because the toy creators had done a lot of research and the bar could have been set higher.

The second half of this issue was a Punisher parody written by McDuffie and drawn by Nelson Dewey. Not in the same league as either Colon or Kane, the art is adequate at best. The humor is fun though, with Frank Rook, Exterminator, coming to the house to wage war on vermin. He doesn’t find any insects, but he does discover the monsters and try to kill them. He is taken away by the men in the white coats. The best part of this parody is his “War Journal” where he chronicles his battles with bugs.

The third issue has Tyrannosaurus attack the house. Since the name Godzilla is copyright protected, the MIMP producers had to settle for a name similar to other monster dinosaur characters. T Rex wants to eat radioactive material so he can grow bigger. When he gets thrown in the microwave he grows to human size and it is up to the creature called Swamp Beast to best him. SB looks like a combination of Swamp Thing and Man-Thing and The Heap.

The fourth issue begins a storyline that is not completed. The boys need a house for the monsters and go to a toyshop to buy a doll house. The Bad Guys attack, but are stymied when a spoiled little girl named Theresa buys the house first and takes the monsters home. The two factions join forces for the moment. She bakes Swamp Beast in a microwave reducing him to hard chunks (which they suggest they can revive with some water). She makes Werewolf do dog tricks. Theresa’s reign of terror is stopped when Spring-Heeled Jack uses his power to terrify by creating the illusion of a person’s greatest fear. Theresa leaves the monsters alone because Jack reminded her of her father, the disciplinarian of the house.

We can only guess that the next issue would feature Jack and Tom finding and rescuing the monsters. We’ll never know. The comic was cancelled, which was a little surprising since the first issue sold out. But the toy line was done and MIMP disappeared from 7-11s everywhere by 1992, mutating into Ninjas in My Pocket in 1996. By that time, the word Pokemon was beginning to surface…

The comics are gone and the toys have ended up in the Junk Box. And all that remains are questions. Had MUSCLE inspired MIMP? Did MIMP inspire Pokemon? I can’t help but wonder if the Pokemon creators had any knowledge of these toy lines sold all over the world? The collecting aspect of the Pokemon games and toys is the same, as is that dire directive to own them all (and put lots of money in the company’s pocket.) And that incentive hasn’t changed much, with Pokemon Go pulling in $200 million in the first month. Oh, hey, I gotta go. My Kakuna has enough Weedle candy to evolve...

GW Thomas has appeared in over 400 different books, magazines and ezines including The Writer, Writer's Digest, Black October Magazine and Contact. His website is He is editor of Dark Worlds magazine.


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