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Letters to Planet Slade: August 2010

Page: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
Murder Ballads
Secret London

July 16, 2010. Steven Jamrozik of Chicago writes:
“Carmine Infantino reached a settlement with DC Comics out of court. Limited details can be found in The Flash Companion published by Twomorrows Publishing.
“Basically, Carmine Infantino created a character for a newspaper strip called 'Captain Whiz and the Colors of Evil'. Carmine was a fan of Captain Marvel and based the name on the character and the title of his book. Carmine shopped it around to various people including Joe Simon, but nobody would buy it as superheroes were not selling.
“When Julius Schwartz wanted to bring back the name of The Flash but with a new character, Carmine offered him Captain Whiz. Villains were also changed. Carmine's 'Purple' character became Gorilla Grodd. The 'White' character became Captain Cold. 'Blue' became Captain Boomerang. 'Green' became The Top. Mirror Master was 'Orange' and 'Yellow' became Reverse Flash.
“DC was skeptical as the Captain Whiz story was told after Julius Schwartz' death. Carmine said that in addition to Schwartz and Bob Kanigher, Arnold Drake and Joe Simon were aware of Captain Whiz. Because Arnold Drake and Joe Simon were still alive, a settlement was reached.”

Paul Slade replies:
Steven's referring to my Superheroes in Court piece, of course, and specifically to the box copy about Carmine Infantino's 2004 lawsuit claiming a stake in The Flash and several other DC characters.
I haven't been able to find a copy of The Flash Companion on this side of the Atlantic, but I had read the bare bones of the Captain Whiz story elsewhere. Until I got your letter though, Steven, it had never occurred to me that Whiz's adversaries may have been reincarnated as the predominant colours in each Rogues' Gallery costume. Even the grey/blue highlights sometimes used on Grodd's fur could be said to give him a slightly purple tinge.
For those unfamiliar with the Rogues, the picture above shows Captain Boomerang and the Pied Piper seated, with Captain Cold, Mr Element, the Trickster, the Weather Wizard, Reverse Flash, Abra Kadabra, the Mirror Master, the Top and Heat Wave ranged from left to right behind them. The big hairy fellow at the back is Grodd, of course.

July 20, 1010. Panama of the Mojo message board writes:
“Just read your piece on Masquerade and found it as fascinating as I have found the other articles on your site. I'm being picky but on page 2 of your Lobby Lud article you describe Max Mallowan as an architect when he was an archaeologist.
“Keep up the good work. I have thoroughly enjoyed your articles.”

Paul Slade replies:
“Thanks very much for that, Panama. I knew perfectly well that Mallowan was an archaeologist when I wrote that piece, but for some reason I typed “architect” anyway. I'm grateful for a chance to correct the error, which I've now done.
Head in the clouds, face in the book

I've very little to report this month on PlanetSlade's attempts to colonise the rest of the internet, bar the fact that I have finally started a Facebook page for the site, which you'll find here.
I've only just set it up, so it's a bit of a ghost town at the moment - tumbleweed blowing through the streets, a lonely church bell sounding in the distance, that sort of thing. If anyone feels like scurrying on over there and livening the place up a bit, that'd be much appreciated.
I'm still not quite sure why I want a Facebook page, mind you, but with half a billion people now signed up there I guess it's bound to come in handy one way or another. For the moment, I'll be using it to post a little notice every time I add something new to PlanetSlade and keep an eye on any comments you may care to add. Whether it flourishes or not is really up to you.
Elsewhere in the forest, I have found a couple of intriguing little time-wasters online recently. The first is a website called I Write Like, which takes a short sample of your prose, analyses it, and tells you which famous author your style most closely resembles. Here's what the critic Bob Fiore had to say about it:

“The natural test you'd want to put this thing to is to try it out on famous authors themselves. It started out pretty well; a paragraph of  Huckleberry Finn turned up Mark Twain, and a paragraph from Dubliners turned up James Joyce. However, from this point forward performance degrades considerably. I'm figuring Ernest Hemingway ought to be an easy one, but when I put in a chunk of  Hills Like White Elephants it came back Ian Fleming. I put in a chunk of  Red Wind by Raymond Chandler and it came back Margaret Mitchell. I put in a chunk of  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald and it came back Stephen King. [...] All this should tell you just how much salt you should take this with.”

Obviously just a bit of fun, then, and not to be taken remotely seriously. I was bored, however, so I plugged a few paragraphs from my Stagger Lee essay into the site and it came back “William Shakespeare”. First try, no cheating, honest to God. I should have quit there, but I couldn't resist trying again, so I fed it a section from my Hattie Carroll piece, and this time it told me I write like Stephen King. I'd be happy to take either of those, but I can't help feeling Fiore's salt is mounting fast.
Exhausted by my efforts to meld Macbeth with Carrie - a neater match than you might think - I turned next to This takes whatever prose you give it and produces a word cloud, matching each word's typesize to the frequency with which you've used it. I tried this out with the first page of each PlanetSlade piece, and you can view the gallery it produced here. I think the Stagger Lee one's prettiest.
Message board round-up

The full quotes from which I've extracted my latest blurbs can be found here:



BBC Radio messageboards

The Comics Reporter


Harmony Central



Mudcat Café

Neil Alien

Tantalising texts think this treatise terribly talented

On Murder Ballads
“A fantastic website.” - Dave Henderson, Mojo.

“What a great idea this is.” - Lord Dunno, Authonomy.

“Some excellent writing on the subject.” - Jesse Sublett, Wordpress.

“Clever.” - T. Hart, Authonomy.

“I've really enjoyed reading your essays.” - Pete Flood, via e-mail.

“Great concept, excellent execution.” - Craig Faustus, Authonomy.

“I learned a lot and enjoyed this.” - Burgio, Authonomy.

“This is such a wonderful idea.” - Carl Ashmore, Authonomy.

On British Broadsides
“Great stuff! And a fine job of web publishing.” - Dick Greenhaus, Mudcat.

“Excellent article!” - Stackabones,

“Very good.” - Q, Mudcat.

“Required reading.” - Matt Brown,

“Fascinating stuff.” - Giles Earle, Mudcat.

“Really interesting.” - Joanna,

On Texas Easter Fires
“Wonderful story.” - Matt Besinger, via e-mail.

On First Great Radio Hoax
“This is quite wonderful.” - Infinite Jest, Metafilter.

“Fascinating as always.” - Neil King, Fatea.

“Fascinating. I knew nothing about this.” - Languagehat, Metafilter.

“Great piece!” - Twang, Metafilter.

“A good account.” - Anonymous, Infocult.