Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I need Comics Anonymous.

I am sorry to hear that Typhoon Vongfong is heading to Japan, right on the heels of Typhoon Phanfone. Phanfone had been downgraded before it got there at least, but Vongfong is strengthening.

Sorry to say it's been impossible for me to follow these storms without thinking of this guy:


Yep, good old Fin Fang Foom of Marvel fame; Phanfone Typhoon could be his brother. Vongfong Typhoon, a cousin. (You'd hate to introduce them. "Fin Fang Foom, meet Phanfone and Vongfong, Typhoons. Foom, 'Fone. Foom, 'Fong. 'Fong, Foom. 'Fone, Foom.")

You learn a lot about yourself by what pops in your mind when you hear something. As the old saying has it, the definition of a sophisticate is someone who hears "The William Tell Overture" without thinking of the Lone Ranger.*

Anyway, your average idiot might hear names like Phanfone and Vongfong** and think of stupid or culturally insensitive remarks. Me, I think of comic book characters. That makes me a particular subset of the average idiot.

Fin Fang Foom was not named for typhoons or other natural phenomena; Stan Lee said the dragon's name came from Chu Chin Chow, a China-based 1934 film. No dragons in the movie, I think. He just liked the rhythm and alliteration. And I don't think I even need to mention that Jack Kirby did the art.

When I was a youth, Fin Fang Foom was something of a running joke at Marvel. The character was and has been used in any number of ways, as a monster, a good dragon, a dumb brute, a genius with mental powers, Godzilla Junior, a proprietor of a Chinese restaurant, and a guy who plays cards with Howard the Duck. It's complicated. I think he also gave his name to Marvel's short-lived fan mag FOOM, although there's scant evidence. But above all, he was the guy with the awesome name of Fin Fang Foom.***

Really, they could do worse than name a storm after Finny. He was a force with which to be reckoned, at least sometimes.


* Maybe kids today are too far removed from old TV and radio to know about the William Tell/Lone Ranger connection. That does not makes them sophisticated. 

** Pacific storms are not necessarily given human names but rather names of "animals, flowers, astrological signs, and a few personal names" according to the font of human knowledge

*** When you think about it, even our words for storms are pretty cool. Typhoon, cyclone, hurricane, thunderstorm, lightning storm, tornado, tempest, blizzard, monsoon... all cool, and all probably used for superheroes or villains. 
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