Lately I’ve been back into comic books.

It started about a year or so ago while looking for graphic novels at the library. I ran across The Ultimates which I liked very much. The art is wonderful (so much better than what I remember from being a kid) and the stories are, well, more adult.


Everyone is re-imagined (I hate that word, but it fits here) in interesting ways. Giant Man and Wasp have some serious domestic issues, Thor is a seemingly crazy eco-hippie, the Hulk is maleness magnified a hundred fold… Neat stuff.

It got me into the whole Ultimate imprint of Marvel comics. I usually wait for the hardcover collections to come out, and I follow Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four and The Ultimates.

I also recently followed the whole Civil War thingy (disappointing though it was), and I’m buying the nine issue series, Ultimate Power. It’s hard to ignore when Sue Storm looks like this:


While the art and stories are generally more interesting and geared toward adults (OK, man-children), also interesting is how the ads have changed.

Gone are the X-ray specs and sea monkeys. Video games and movies remain, but there’s an awful lot of car ads. And a recent ad with a woman sensuously licking an ice cream cone for Old Spice (yes, Old Spice!) strikes me as very adult.

And it’s all cool. I like reading them, and it’s nice to see the medium matured. But it’s harder and harder to find a comic for my son that I feel comfortable with him reading.

He’s three and loves loves LOVES superheroes. Captain American especially.

I’ve tried the supposed all-ages comics, but there’s an awful lot of violence in them, and he has plenty of time to be desensitized to that by TV down the road.

With the kids-related toy lines, and the Marvel babies yet to come, you’d think there’d be friendlier stuff for a kid his age.

Anyway, it’s cool to be somewhat back into comics again. And I’m looking forward to sharing them more with my son down the road.

What a long way they’ve come.

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Andertoons 2.0 – Tags Revisited

A while back on the old Andertoons, I started displaying the tags I’d associated with each cartoon.

Very simply, when I create a cartoon and enter it into my database, I assign a number of words that apply to it. A typical sales graph cartoon might have ‘sales,’ ‘selling,’ ‘graph,’ ‘meeting,’ ‘business,’ ‘office,’ etc…

In web 2.0 sites, tags are a big deal, and a great source of simple and deep navigation, so I put the tags up for everyone to see, and made them links to more cartoons that share those tags.

The new wrinkle at the new site is something called a tag cloud. Check out the cartoon below:


The tag ‘work’ is listed below the cartoon. Click on it and you get this screen:


Pretty standard, except for the new column on the right:


These are the tags most often shared by these cartoons. In cases where there are fewer shard tags, the fonts will get smaller as the list descends to indicate the lesser associations.

But here’s the really cool part. When you click on the microscope icon above, this pops up:


Without leaving the screen, you get a tag cloud of all of the tags shared in ‘work,’ organized alphabetically, and rated by font size (the more often shared, the larger the font).

Click on a tag and you’re off again to more thumbnails. Or click outside the cloud and return to where you were.

Is that cool or what?!

It’s an entirely new way to browse the site, and, although tag clouds are now common, this sort of pop-up cloud is unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere.

Anyway, hope you like it!

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