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THOUGHTS AT THREE A.M.
by editor I forgot my name

An important question for all Fanzing readers: Should we go to a frames format?

I'm considering this move because I can think of several ways to implement it which would greatly improve user navigation of our site. I can also envision a few ways that would make it easier for me (the webmaster). Not to mention that a frame site, when done well, can look incredibly snazzy!

The only problem is that there are fans out there who absolutely hate frames! Considering the amount of work that goes into Fanzing and the lack of time on my part, I don't really have the ability to do a "frames or no frames" option (which is somewhat like having two copies of the web site).

A lot of the objections to frames have been overridden by advances in browser technology. In just the past year, visits to Fanzing by users with older browsers have dropped considerably, and the vast majority use 3.0 or 4.0 versions of Netscape and Internet Explorer. More to the point, frames can be so useful that almost all of the great web sites have them and any anti-frame whiners have learned to cope, so on a technical front there really aren't too many reasons not to.

While there are some reasonable objections to frames (not being able to break out of them when visiting a new site, reduced screen size, etc.), most of these are, as I said, moot points. I think the reason there are still those who hate frames is that a couple years ago, when frames became the hot thing, they were used 90% of the time to communicate a message. This message was: "Look, Mom, I learned how to do frames!" I think we've all visited those sites that have five different frames! One is a frame across the top containing JUST THE LOGO for the site; this frame is usually set too small, so that you have to grab a slider bar on the side and move it up and down to read the bottom of the logo. Then on the left side there's a navigation bar. Then there's a box in the middle which never moves and it has the e-mail address of the person. Again, this frame is too small and you have to slide up and down to read it. Then there's a frame with an animated GIF for absolutely no reason. Finally, there's a box with the web site's different pages all crammed into a space 200 pixels wide.

I would hope that, if Fanzing goes to a frames format, I'd have better taste than that!

MY problem is this: what monitor size are you using? See, all Fanzing pages are layed out with a width of 600 pixels; this is so that the layout looks the same regardless of whether your monitor is set to a small ratio of 640x480, the web standard of 800x600 or even one of the wider settings. The only people who may currently have problems viewing Fanzing are WebTV users, as their freaky system has a viewing area of only 540 pixels!

The majority of people have their monitor set to 800x600 (If you haven't tried it, try it now!). If practically everyone ut there used this setting or greater, then I could put a 200 pixel wide frame on the left hand side and still fit the Fanzing pages in the right-hand frame at their regular setting. But if not, there could be difficulty in viewing the Fanzing page.

So what do you think? Want to see my frames page? Are you dead-set against it? What monitor size are you using? Please let us know how you feel


Funniest DC Comic Scene Discussion

What is the funniest thing you've ever read in a DC Comic?

In answering this question, I was going to make it conditional that we stick to superhero comics, as Keith Giffen has written TONS of laugh-out-loud funny stuff in "Ambush Bug", "The Heckler" et al which is going to overshadow any attempt at humor in a serious book. However, I think it would be best to let you select whether to limit your options or not.

To let us know yours, check out Fanzing's Forum.

For me, despite the afore-mentioned hilarious Keith Giffen works, I tend to lean towards a scene (or series of scenes) from the "Knightfall" saga. The Ventriloquist is released along with all of the other inmates at Arkham; however, without his "Scarface" dummy to release his alternate personality, Ventriloquist is unable to function.

So he takes off one of his socks and creates "Mr. Socko", a WHOLE NEW PERSONALITY FOR HIS OTHER HAND. Mr. Socko orders him around, and together they plan to release Scarface. However, Scarface does not take too kindly to this new individual muzzling in on his territory. Scarface draws his tommy-gun on Mr. Socko. Mr. Socko grabs a pistol and aims it at Scarface. The Ventriloquist begs for them to stop.

The scene of this guy begging with the two imaginary characters on his hands, while he is playing all three parts in different voices, is just too delicious!

Finally, the two puppets shoot each other and Ventriloquist passes out from the shock. Admittedly, a dark comic ending, but one which practically writes itself from the nature of the Ventriloquist. Ventriloquist has turned up since then, I believe, but as I don't commit to the bat-books I haven't seen any appearances myself.

Again, you can post your favorite scene in Fanzing's Forum.


Here are last month's Quizlet results:
Q: Which character would make the best movie?
(of 820 respondents)
17% Black Lightning
27% Adam Strange
21% The Atom
4% The Shining Knight
20% Firestorm, the Nuclear Man
11% Captain Carrot (animated)

Adam Strange took the lead and outdistanced everyone. Initially, the close second was Black Lightning. Then, the Atom shot ahead within a day…which is so fishy that I think someone was playing with the Quizlet.

What's really cool is that I've come up with workable movie script plots for Black Lightning, Captain Carrot and Adam Strange. In fact, the Black Lightning script is practically complete…except that it will never be put to paper, because I realized that if any Black Lightning film ever saw the light of day, creator Tony Isabella would demand to write it. As for Adam Strange, the character is practically made for celluloid, so I wasn't surprised to see him win.


On the subject of movies: have each and every one of you seen "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"? If not, that's your assignment for this month! I just watched my favorite film for the umpteenth time and I was surprised to see the many elements which ring true even moreso today. Granted, it's overly romanticized and sentimental. But some things I thought were far-fetched are actually realistic when you look at today's politics. I thought the idea that a political power could keep a major event out of the news was ridiculous; even if it was true in the 1930s, it certainly couldn't happen now. But look at the way several major networks have neglected to say a single word about Juanita Broaderick's credible allegation that Bill Clinton raped her in 1978!

Or, for an even more concrete news item, Newt Gingrich was cleared of the charges that he'd misused funds for his college history course. During his time as Speaker of the House, he was assailed with dozens of ethics charges, most of which were groundless and only one of which (the college course charge) succeeded in sticking. At the time that charge hit, EVERY news anchor either led with the story and/or covered it in an in-depth segment. The charge permanently damaged Gingrich's reputation. But after years of investigation and after Gingrich has stepped down, when it's finally proven that Gingrich did nothing wrong, several networks neglect to say even one word. For the millions who get their news from these major networks, they have no clue that Gingrich has been exonerated! I'm not trying to stump for Gingrich or say that he's totally guiltless (his fines stand, as he tried to cover up the allegations). I should hope that this kind of "slander by omission" would bother people of all political stripes, as it could easily be their candidate (although in America it's far more likely to happen to a Republican).

So, could "Mr. Smith" happen today? Could a powerful man with political interests keep a 24-hour fillibuster out of the news so that his constituency wouldn't hear what he was saying? Well, two things would ensure that at least SOME people would hear of it: C-SPAN (the Congressional broadcast channel) and Internet gossip columnist Matt Drudge, neither of which can be censored. Of course, the latter has a lack of credibility with many people and the former has about eight viewers during non-election years. But for the majority who still get news from network TV and the Clinton News Network, it's entirely believeable that such a story could go unnoticed if the Powers That Be at the various channels want to downplay it. The president of NBC proved his power when he had Saturday Night Live fire Norm McDonald (undoubtedly the funniest "fake news" anchor SNL had had since Dennis Miller or even Chevy Chase) because he didn't like Norm's sense of humor (many say it was because Norm kept making jokes about O.J. Simpson's guilt and the prez of NBC is a friend of O.J.'s). If the president of NBC can override the best interests of one of his channel's major shows for purely personal opinions, how far-fetched is it that he can call the news department and have them downplay or eliminate a story?

"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". My favorite movie…and in a day and age when we're all disgusted with the current political situation, it's more important than ever that everyone sees it. Rent it today…or buy it from Amazon.com.


If you're in the mood for some more escapist entertainment, let me tell you about my two favorite anime films. I'm not really fond of anime (sorry, Melissa!), but these two stand out from all of the violent, exploitative films.

My top choice, by far, is They Were Eleven. Instead of an over-the-top violence fest, this movie is an intense drama. In a space academy, students must prove that they are the best of the best. To do this, ten of them must survive 53 days on a derelict spaceship. The students have never met before and cannot see each other's faces. They enter the darkened airlock, turn on the lights…and discover that there are ELEVEN people! One of them is not supposed to be there. Is it a ghost? A mistake? A spy? A traitor? The students don't have time to find out, for they must keep the ship functioning and stay alive while never totally trusting in each other. If I ever become a movie director, I'd love to remake this as a live action film!

My other fave is Project A-Ko. Although this movie became a mediocre series, the original is excellent. I'll admit, there are a lot of elements that are annoying if not outright disturbing, but the concept and overall plot are highly enjoyable. I'll try to explain it without ruining the surprises.

16-year-old A-Ko and her friend C-Ko transfer to a new school in a city which has been rebuilt following the destruction of the old city 16 years prior (first clue). The city was destroyed by the impact of a gigantic indestructible spaceship entering the atmosphere; it still stands as a giant tower in the center of the city. A-Ko has superpowers which are not explained to the viewer. There is a spy in the city looking for an alien princess who survived the crash 16 years earlier (second clue).

At school, technical genius and gorgeous rich snob B-Ko (I should mention I have no idea what the deal is with the names) becomes enamored of C-Ko and schemes to get her away from A-Ko. What follows I can only describe as "Betty and Veronica meets Superman vs. Lex Luthor". All I will add is that this film has some of the best superhero action visuals I've seen. So rent it. Watch it. Watch it again. By the third viewing, you'll probably understand it.


One last thing. As I write this, I'm watching Spartacus in memory of Stanley Kubrick. The movie is a bit long, but I absolutely love the ending. Oddly enough, I've never seen the movie in its unrestored version; it's hard to believe that the most potent element of the ending (I'm avoiding the specifics in case you haven't seen this powerful film) was originally cut because it was considered too gruesome.


I can't figure this out. Fanzing is getting more and more attention all the time; we get dozens of new subscribers every WEEK!

So how come none of them seem to be artists?

It has been ages since I got a submission from a new artist. Meanwhile, some of our most prolific artists of the past have gotten new jobs and challenges which have reduced their time available to contribute to Fanzing. (Don't get me wrong; I don't begrudge anyone the chance to advance their careers!!!)

We need new blood, people! If you know of an artist who may be interested in contributing, pass them an invitation. Even if it doesn't look like the artist hasn't done any DC characters before, it never hurts to ask!


One of Fanzing's past contributors, Chris Pangle, has just self-published his first comic book: "Paradise Cafe". You can read about it at http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/8455/


Tommy Hancock, writer of "A Man Named Kent" from YesterYear fanfiction will be at the COLLECTIBLES EXTRAVAGANZA at the Riverfront Hilton in Little Rock, Arkansas on April 3. Tommy will be signing autographs and will have his new book "Hancock`s Heroes" for sale. Tommy`s work has been praised by comics professionals. For more information on Tommy, YesterYear or the Little Rock show e-mail RJCroxton@aol.com

This column is © 1999 Michael Hutchison.

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