It’s a little known fact that for a brief time in 1972, Bob Ross enjoyed a post within the prestigious Justice League. Before Ross’s Joy of Painting launched him into superstardom, he courageously fought the forces of evil alongside the now famous Super Friends. After a time, the others felt threatened by this incredibly talented, poetic artist and managed to convince JLA Inc. to find creative ways to abbreviate his tenure. Enforcing a ‘happy little technicality’, JLA stated that membership in the Justice League required superhuman ability. Apparently moving mountains and bending rivers with killer artistic skill wasn’t a superpower.
The hole left by Ross deeply affected Martian Manhunter, who left the group within weeks of Ross’s departure. Even the Justice League’s name was downplayed in favor of the more generic ‘Super Friends’ due to the irony of the rather unjust removal of Ross. In a desperate attempt to recapture some of that groovy glory, JLA Inc. drafted the three Junior Super Friends — Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog — to far less appeal. While the Super Friends fizzled in just under a decade, Bob Ross went on to enjoy eleven years of wet-on-wet oil-painted landscape mastery and a lifetime of syndication on Public Television.
I grew up drawing super heroes all the time but never questioned the physical plausibility of the characters (or their wardrobe). Admittedly there was always something very curious about Dr. Banner’s incredible pants. They would have to be incredible, wouldn’t they? Sorry, Mr. Lee. I’ll stand behind the transformative powers of gamma radiation and their ability to morph an ordinary man into a nine foot monster, but if you expect me to believe those ugly purple pants of his would only come unbuttoned at the waist and split up to the knees… Really?! Have you seen the Hulk’s thighs?! They’re each, like, thirty inches! Heck, most guys can’t put on more than a couple pounds without feeling like a stuffed sausage in their Dockers, but the Hulk can pack on a half ton and still comfortably throw cars. Even if Hulk’s pants were a bit roomier in the seat and thigh, would they really fit Bruce’s original human frame after he calmed down? Incredible? More like, incredibly unbelievable!
We’ve been reading a new book series to our boys at night – The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy. The story centers around superheroes battling supervillains in the city of Superopolis. The main character, ‘O Boy’, is joined by a menagerie of ridiculously named super hero buddies like Halogen Boy, Plasma Girl and Stench to fight as part of LUG (League of Ultimate Goodness). Inspired by the wacky-but-appropriate nomenclature for the book’s heroes we named our dastardly duo – The Antagonizer and Distracta Boy.
The Antagonizer’s main power is an uncanny ability to zero in on the weaknesses of his opponents before verbally or physically assaulting them repeatedly. It’s important to note that the Antagonizer doesn’t respond well to being antagonized. It just so happens that his kryptonite is being treated like he treats others.
Distracta Boy has no real notable powers (other than a shrill scream when being attacked directly) but can easily defeat his tormentors by ignoring all forms of communication. If Distracta Boy is ordered to go to his room to make his bed you will find him a half hour later reading books – at the foot of his unmade bed.
Our little ‘heroes’ spend more time fighting each other than any real villains but have been known on rare occasions to work together to uphold ‘Not Lying, Being Fair and Loving Each Other’.
I never realized how ubiquitous the symbolism for an “idea moment” was until I considered its use in a historical context. The pre-twentieth century “ideas” don’t quite depict that flash moment of brilliance that we associate with turning on a light. Using the traditional incandescent bulb in today’s green-conscious world seems too anachronistic. Will adopting a revised symbol of the light bulb be necessary as advances in technology render the original unrecognizable? Add this to your list of things to lose sleep over.