I have no idea how Memorial Day in the USA came to symbolize backyard barbecues and retailer sales events more than honoring our nation’s deceased veterans. But, like Christmas, it might be a good time to remind everyone about the true meaning of the holiday. (Yes, I’ll make it on topic!)
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed back in 1868 as a way to honor those that perished during the Civil War. Congress didn’t make it a national holiday until 1971 (and you thought today’s Congress was slow to act!). Everything you want to know can be found here.
I’d just like to mention a few names already familiar you wonderful and faithful readers: Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, Gene Colan, John Buscema, Dan DeCarlo, Russ Heath, Bill Ward, Graham Ingels, Bill Mauldin, George Baker, Bill Everett, Jack Kamen, George Evans, Mike Esposito, Johnny Craig, Alex Raymond, Charles Schulz, and dozens and dozens of other comic book and strip artists, writers and creators no longer with us who served in the military. (I tried but could not find a site that lists all the names in the field who served. If you know of one, PLEASE post the link in the Comments section below. Thanks.) Some saw combat and some didn’t, but they were veterans all and deserve to be remembered today.
To go out on a lighter, more positive note, I fully recommend the second comic-book blockbuster of the year, MEN IN BLACK 3. Unlike THE AVENGERS, this one makes better use of 3D and though not as jaw-dropping as the usage in HUGO, I’d say it was still worth the extra dough (for once). Especially during the brilliantly-composed opening sequence and the scenes atop the Chrysler Building. Acting is superb (major props to Josh Brolin for his young Tommy Lee Jones portrayal).
There’s great humor, as usual, along with creative aliens of all kinds–take note when Will Smith travels to the 60s, the aliens also have a “retro” look (kudos to mastermind Rick Baker, who appears in the 60s background as a giant-brained alien in white). Action galore, of course. But this has some unexpected and quite touching pathos as well, which ties into a surprise ending which I won’t spoil. Suffice to say it’s better than the second film if not the first. (Haven’t seen either in years so I may be biased.)
Whatever you decided to put on the grill today, I hope you also put a good comic book or strip collection in front of you by a departed veteran creator. If so, feel free to tell me below what you chose! I’m always looking for great new old stuff.
P.S.: If you’d like something patriotic (any country–I’m no jingoist) to adorn your wall, I’d be honored to honor you by creating a commission for you of any character past or present. (Or your favorite veteran as your favorite character.) Just ask Craig here!