Someday I’ll go back. Not in 2015. We’re going to Glacier in 2015. But maybe in 2016. We’ll see.
|You have to love this place. Carole and Andy and I were walking back to our room and what’s in the parking lot eating greens? A giant bison. We gave him a wide berth.|
|Part of the giant elk herd that got between me and my family as we were hiking back to Mammoth Hot Springs. We had to wait for it to pass before we could link up.|
|Actually in the area between Grand Teton and Yellowstone. A bull moose.|
|Bison in a dust wallow. Hayden Valley.|
|And it’s not just the animals. A boiling hot lake, ladies and gentlemen. A. Boiling. Hot. Lake. Give me a break.|
But it doesn’t stop with the end of childhood. Oh, no.
Yesterday I was sick. Really, really sick. Could hardly sleep last night for the pain and constantly hacking up bloody phlegm. But come the alarm clock, what do I do? You got it. I got dressed and went to work.
Dumb. GodDAMN, that was dumb.
Now I am even sicker. So I am going to type this, take a shower, climb into bed and go to sleep. If I wake up this sick in the morning I will head to the doctor’s office instead of work.
|Go home, Bob. You’re dumb.|
|Getting my stuff set up with Cavewoman creator Budd Root.|
|At the artist alley with Buddy Prince and Andy Smith (no relation).|
|The place was packed.|
|There is now a separate room for toy dealers.|
|Don’t ask, because I have absolutely no idea.|
But one winter day I was hiking in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area with some companions. There had been recent cold and snowy weather and we wanted to experience some of it up on the rim of the gorge. Down in the valleys there was still snow on the ground, but it was melting. As we climbed up into the higher country, around 3,000 feet or so, it was still below freezing and the winter precipitation that had fallen the previous days had not melted. So we were greeted with classic winter scenery the higher we hiked.
One thing that had happened right at the end of the storm was that the snow had turned briefly to freezing rain and sleet. This meant that on the mountaintops we were hiking atop seven or eight inches of snow shielded by about an inch of frozen sleet. The trees were coated in this stuff, too. It was indeed beautiful to look at and fun to walk on, especially as I had come equipped with my Yaktrax to keep me from slipping.
Then, along a high ridge, the temperature and the sun suddenly combined to begin breaking up the ice. For several magic minutes the forest was full of the symphony of shattering ice. I’ve never heard or seen anything like it and I often wonder about the confluence of events and perfect timing that put me in that spot at that particular moment. It was especially nice as I had separated myself from my babbling companions so that the only thing speaking in this video is Mother Nature.
The Kirby book is a Golden Age comic; JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY #22. This was published by the Hillman outfit who published until 1953. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby did a lot of work for them, mainly for their crime and police publications. This issue only features a Kirby cover, but it’s pretty nifty. Inside is some art by Mort Meskin who sometimes illustrated so much like Kirby that when I was a kid I would get Meskin confused with Kirby.
|Classic Kirby cover!|
The other book that arrived on my doorstep is the new effort from Steve Ditko. Ditko is closing in on 90 years old but is still producing new comics! His right wing rants are the opposite of the way I interpret the world. Some of my friends ask me how I can enjoy his work when he obviously has nothing but contempt for those whose views are as far to the left as my own. All I can tell them is that I have always identified with his positions on responsibility and the similarity of the black and white world of good and evil. (Of course what I would see as “wrong”, Ditko would see as “correct”.) Still and all, I never tire of his work and enjoy it so much that I was one of the supporters who tossed in money for the Kickstarter campaign that resulted in the production of this nifty 32-page comic.
|Steve Ditko’s latest!|
Musings on genre writing, waterfall wandering, and peak bagging in the South’s wilderness areas.
In the meantime, Carole and I drove up to the mountains to visit West Jefferson and Boone to do some shopping. We wanted to buy some fresh cheese and butter from the Ashe County Dairy in downtown West Jefferson. Unfortunately, they are retooling the churns and so they had no butter for sale. That stuff is fantastically good, so we were really disappointed. We made up for it by purchasing some extra cheese varieties.
Then we drove over to Boone to shop on King Street. One of our favorite shops is the Mast General Store. We don’t have one of those here in Charlotte, so we have to drive a fair distance to find one. The one on King Street in Boone is a really nice store.
I was hunting for a pair of Smartwool long underwear to replace my old set. They keep me warm when I go backpacking in the winter. But the prices have really gone up on those since the last time I bought a set! It’s now almost $100 for bottoms, almost that much for long-sleeve shirt! I don’t think we can fit those into the budget. Last time I bought a set the price was a little more than half that much. And it hasn’t been that many years ago. Oh, well.
We finished up by taking a short excursion on the Blue Ridge Parkway before heading home. One reason we did this trip is because the weather was so horrible that I decided not to go backpacking in Linville Gorge. As things turned out, I made the right decision. It rained heavily all day in that area.
|Arriving in downtown West Jefferson in the rain.|
|Carole makes a purchase in one of the nice crafts stores there.|
|Ashe County Cheese store! The best!|
|Part of their wine selection. We didn’t buy any wine, but probably should have.|
|The old man in front of the dairy, across the street from the cheese shop.|
|Alas, it was rainy and cloudy and dreary even on the Blue Ridge Parkway!|
The limitations of the Code seemed obviously worded to shut down EC, which was easily the finest producer of comics the industry has ever seen. No more horror. No more ground-breaking science-fiction stories. No more violence. No more sex. No more bad guys getting away with their crimes. These were the things that had made EC popular with the readers, and without the ability to speak freely and illustrate freely, the company was likely doomed.
William Gaines, the owner, had two choices. Adapt, or perish. He chose initially to try to steer the company in a tamer lane with his “New Direction” line of comics. The artists were largely the same. Gaines paid the highest rates in the industry for story and art, and he only employed the greatest comics artists who were available. The New Direction titles continued this tradition of excellence.
But…the edge was gone. There was no danger to the stories. No bite. The things that the fan base had come to expect from EC were missing, and they failed to support the company’s new titles.
The best selling title Gaines had was MAD. He chose to transform that one into a magazine to escape the Comics Code (a brilliant move). That saved that one title and eventually made Gaines the highest paid publisher on Earth. But he was forced to kill off all of the New Direction books, and thus died the finest comics company that ever saw the light of print.
I picked up a couple of New Direction books this week (PIRACY). Gorgeous artwork. The stories are good, but nothing like the yarns from the days before the hated Comics Code. Alas.
|The last issue of PIRACY. Cover by George Evans.|
Which I am going to do.
So. Some photos.
|Linville Gorge is probably a better option. If there’s a long trek involved, the scumbags aren’t interested.|