Opus 123:

Opus 123: NOUS R US(September 25, 2003). Vertigo, DC's imprint for graphic novels aimed at literate adults, is celebrating its 10th anniversary by publishing Neil Gaiman's TheSandman: Endless Nights, "a work of dark fantasy" in a $29.95 hardcover edition with an assortment of notable artists and an initial press run of 10,000, one of the biggest Vertigo runs ever. Karen Berger, who ramrods the Vertigo shop, told Dana Jennings of the New York Times that Vertigo focuses on writers rather than, she implied, drawings. Even before the first Vertigo book was published, Berger started cultivating British writers like Gaiman. "I found their sensibility and point of view to be refreshingly different, edgier and smarter," Berger said. "The British writers broke open comics and took the medium to a new level of maturity." One result of the adult emphasis at Vertigo (and elsewhere) has been increased attention to graphic novels in bookstores. Micha Hershman, a buyer for Borders, predicted that Gaiman's Endless Nights will be "the hottest traditional comics title in years. I expect sales to be five to ten times bigger than anything in recent history." He's ordered about the same number of Gaiman's book as he did for the latest from best-selling writers like James Lee Burke.

            And, this just in, Fantagraphics will be reprinting the entire 49-plus year run of Peanuts. Details to come, doubtless.

BREATHED'S BACK. Opus, the penguin who started out as a German shepherd in Bloom County on Friday, June 26, 1981, is making a come-back. The Washington Post announced on September 9 that Berk Breathed will revive his most celebrated character for a Sunday-only, half-page comic strip entitled Opus, beginning November 23. It's the Sunday before Thanksgiving but, for Breathed fans, that Sunday is a day of thanksgiving. The announcement, while scarcely anticipated, does not come as a surprise to cartoonists who attended the Reuben weekend of the National Cartoonists Society in May. Breathed made an unannounced presentation that weekend and left little doubt that he missed doing a comic strip despite the constant nag of having to meet deadlines twice a week (once for a week's daily strips; once for the Sunday strip). Perhaps as harbinger, Bloom County started a re-run on Universal Press's "MyComics" Internet page last winter, beginning at the beginning and continuing at the rate of a week's worth of strips every day. The new strip will be distributed by Breathed's old syndicate, the Washington Post Writers Group. Of the three dozen or so newspapers that had seen the new strip, most plan to buy it, according to WPWG editorial director Alan Shearer. Newspaper editors are being shown advance strips but are not allowed to keep copies. "We're trying to keep it off the Internet," Shearer explained to David Astor at Editor & Publisher. "The one place and the only place to see Opus will be in newspapers," he continued, pitching to newspaper editors:  "This is a tremendous opportunity to increase circulation." Breathed, he said, is making great artistic use of his half-page for Opus. "It's absolutely breath-taking," Shearer said.

            Bloom County, which debuted December 8, 1980 and earned Breathed a Pulitzer for political cartooning in 1987, appeared in nearly 1,300 newspapers at its peak before Breathed discontinued it August 6, 1989. He then produced on September 3 a Sunday strip, Outland, which ran in only about 225 papers before Breathed gave it up in 1995. Since then, he has written children's books; and he is at present working on a film featuring Opus, the character Breathed described last May as "lightning striking"-and he said he didn't realize, at the time, how lucky he had been to have conjured up the penguin. Lightning seldom strikes twice between the same cartoonist's ears. Now we'll all have this happy flightless bird back. And Breathed, who realized during the turmoils of the last couple years how much he missed not having a public platform from which to view and comment upon the passing scene, will have his platform again.

CIVILIZATION'S LAST OUTPOST. This is too good to miss:  Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.  Tihs is vrey improtent in emial becuase most poeple cant' type wroth siht or sepll ethier. 

FUNNYBOOK FANFARE. The artwork by Francisco Paronzini and Robert Campanella in Cinnamon: El Ciclo, judging from the first two issues, is pretty strenuously influenced by Eduardo Risso in 100 Bullets. Not quite as deeply shadowed in solid blacks, though-perhaps because this tale takes place in the sunny deserts of Mexico and the Southwest. Cinnamon is a girl gun-slinger, but she's not a bad girl: she wears regular clothes including a cowboy hat and a duster and there's no decolletage in sight. Set out West in the modern age, the story nonetheless has a nice olden times "western" feel to it, six guns and horse pucky and saloons with swingin' doors. There's a shoot-out in the street that Cinnamon wins, and then she sets off for L.A. to meet her fate with the grown daughter of a man she killed because he killed her pa, a town marshal, during a bank holdup he was committing with six others. Cinnamon grew up and by the time this tale commences, she's killed six of the seven holdup gang; then, in a flashback, we watch her take down the seventh. Hearing that the guy's daughter is looking for her, Cinnamon elects to initiate a meeting. Her nemesis, the girl Mace, is now a sort of neighborhood guardian of the young, employing a large firearm to rescue them from the evil elements of the 'hood. Meanwhile, in a subplot, the wealthy parents of Helen Burfitt are looking for their daughter, who, unbeknownst to them, has joined up with Mace. Much of Jen Van Meter's story transpires in silence. It's low-key, leisurely, and terse in both cryptic pictures and short speeches. Keep track of this one.

            Lone No. 1 from Dark Horse's Rocket Comics imprint is a deft piece of work from Stuart Moore with art by Russ Manning Award winner, Jerome Opena. Another cowboy story, but this one is set in an apocalyptic future where everything is, apparently, a desert. Luke, a girl with green hair, and her family are being menaced by zombies and mutants, so her mother sends her and her brother off to find a nearly legendary gunny named Lone. (I love the name; it's almost as good as that of a detective in Billy DeBeck's Barney Google whose monicker was Hello Swifty.) Just "Lone." No first name; no last name. With the help of an old desert rat, the two kids find Lone who is hanging out at ground zero of the last nuclear war, thriving just fine, thank you, on sausages and radiation. He's retired, he says, and can't help them. But after they're all attacked in his home by a gaggle of zombies or mutants, Lone changes his mind and offers to rid the family of the zombie scourge in exchange for a supply of old newspapers, for which he has an uncommon appetite. This is another of those stories brimming in elliptical dialogue, soaking in unexplained references; but that's part of its ambiance and appeal. And Opena's artwork is just fine-his crisp and crackling line sings, page after page. Mostly pictures of people and zombies-that is, not much in background visuals, but that's probably because there isn't much background in a desert. When necessary, Opena limns the locales with aplomb.

            DC's archival re-issue of Jack Cole's Plastic Man is up to Vol. 5, that is, fall 1946. And the reconstructed artwork by Rick Keene and Greg Theakston is looking better and better. I had occasion to compare a story in Vol. 4 to the comic book version from whence it sprang, and the reproduction, line for line, was very nearly perfect. But the original, in this case, wasn't pristine: some smudged feathering and the like. So the archival version had smudged feathering and the like. Mostly, however, the artowork in the book is pretty decent. Which suggests that when Keene and Theakston are working with vintage comic book pages that are in good condition and well-printed, the reconstruction will be likewise. The problem, of course, is to find an old comic book in perfect condition that someone wants to sacrifice on the altar of reprints. The alternative, which I still favor, is to shoot in color directly from the old comic book pages. It worked out pretty good with the Frazetta Li'l Abner tome we looked at here in Opus 122. Meanwhile, on the horizon for December is a new beginning for ol' Plastic Man, this one under the supervision of Kyle Baker, and the preview glimpse in DC's Horizon shows us a Plas more manic than we've seen him in years. Maybe too manic? Dunno. Wait and see. I wouldn't miss it.

            The best thing about the first three issues of Marvel's 5-issue series Trouble is the artwork penciled by Terry Dodson and inked by Rachel Dodson, a reprise of Terry's voluptuous female forms and stunning faces and Rachel's incomparably fluid line, a festival of drawing delights that first burst upon us in Harley Quinn. As for Mark Miller's story, the best that can be said for it is that it is a sleazy wet dream. He imposes upon a 1960s milieu the slang of the early 21st century, and while even I remember how obsessed with sex teenagers are, the sensibility here is a little more outspokenly gross than I think we were then. "Is that it, Richie?" says May, in his arms on the opening page of No. 3, bare shoulders showing in close-up. "Are you done?" "Done" is it? Surely she'd know, right. But we need verbal confirmation that Richie has shot his wad.

            And speaking of Harley Quinn, I looked in on No. 35 for old time's sake. Now being drawn by Mike Huddleston and Troy Nixey (inks), it betrays a Mike Mignola influence. A.J. Lieberman's story makes good use of visuals but it hasn't the exuberance of Karl Kesel's first Harley tales.

GRAFIC NOVELZ. Autobiographical graphic novels, of which we've had a plethora since Robert Crumb's gritty self-indulgences appeared in the 1970s, tend to be slice-of-life-ish, crammed with mundane nuance but lacking in great significance for that portion of humanity that reads rather than composes the work. The temptation for the artist to produce a work about his own life increases in persuasiveness whenever the artist encounters that most convincing of admonishments to would-be authors: write what you know. Believing that they know their own lives, young writers, and, in this case, young cartoonists, crank out life stories about themselves.

            Autobiography is almost always revealing-about the subject/author-and sometimes even helpful to the rest of us. Autobiography is like fiction, like all literature, in that regard: it takes us into another human being's mind and heart, and therefore out of ourselves. We learn empathy for others, and to the extent that we can sympathize with others' plights in this vale of tears, we are better fellow beings for it.

            Slices of someone else's life may be somewhat helpful in this direction, but most slices are too thin to affect us much. And their cumulative effect can be mind-numbing rather than uplifting. In recent weeks, the movie "American Splendor" has achieved notice and, even, some notoriety as the cinematic version of a comic book series by Clevelander Harvey Pekar, who has successfully shied slices of his life at us for years, illustrated by such underground luminaries as Crumb and Frank Stack. Pekar's opus proves, at the least, that even the most ordinary of lives (in this case, that of a file clerk in a VA hospital)  can be informative and entertaining to others. By this curious alchemy, the very existence of the comic books and the motion picture establish, irrefutably, that life can be art. But in Pekar's case, this effect is achieved by the piling on, almost willy nilly, of one meaningless incident after another until, taken en masse, they show us the life and mind of the author, becoming, ipso facto, literature.

            But Blankets is different. Autobiographical though it is, it is scarcely a heaped up collection of otherwise meaningless events. The events Craig Thompson has selected for his book are carefully chosen for what they contribute to the ultimate meaning of the work. Thompson's book (nearly 600 6x9-inch pages in paperback; Top Shelf, $29.95) is a genuine bildungsroman, "a novel dealing with the development of a young person as he grows up" (like David Copperfield and The Way of All Flesh). It is also a superb example of the arts of cartooning, of the blending of word and picture to achieve an effect that neither is capable of alone without the other.

           Thompson's protagonist is himself, we assume, and the narrative takes him from a young age to maturity. Raised in a god-fearing Christian home, Craig, a sensitive lad with artistic talent, is often ridiculed by his classmates at school, and then, as a teenager at a church camp one Christmas vacation, he meets Raina and falls in love. During semester break, he goes to visit her at her home in the neighboring state, where he meets her parents, who are divorcing, and two retarded children they have adopted, plus Raina's married sister and her husband. Craig and Raina spend several nights together, experiencing their young love in both spiritual and physical senses. Raina gives him a quilt, a blanket, that she has made for him, sewing together a great variety of different pieces of cloth. Although Raina says she wants him to stay with her forever, she also speaks of their inevitable parting. They attempt to stay in touch afterwards, but Raina, while hoping to remain friends, doesn't want to make a commitment. Soon, Craig ends their relationship. He goes to college and grows away from his parents, discarding their faith.

            Blankets is drawn in a style quite different from Thompson's earlier effort, a poetic fable called Good-bye, Chunky Rice, rendered in a crisply bold linear manner. In Blankets, the cartoonist deploys a bold line again, but this time, he strokes it with a brush that is sometimes almost dry of ink, or he deploys grease crayon to soften the hard edges of the line. And this time, his depiction of his characters is much more realistic albeit still cartoony (as Lynn Johnston's characters in For Better or For Worse are both realistic and cartoony but in an entirely different style). Thompson's mastery of rendering is displayed in evocative backgrounds and in such details as the hands of his characters, drawn with great delicacy and, where necessary, expressiveness.

            But Thompson is more than an expert at drawing elegantly. He has also mastered the comics form itself, and he repeatedly demonstrates the ways that the verbal and the visual can be yoked to achieve narrative effects, and he also varies page layout for dramatic impact. One of the most striking instances of the latter comes at the end of Craig's visit to Raina. Her father drives the two of them to a shopping mall parking lot where Craig's mother meets them to take her son home. The Thompson car drives out of the parking lot, and then when we turn the page, we see a stunning demonstration of the emotional effect of parting: the cartoonist devotes the entire page to picturing the car driving out of the parking lot and then-off the very edge of the world into a blank void.

            Throughout the book, Thompson again and again exploits the capacities of his medium for narrative effects. When Craig's brother is punished by his father, the father is depicted as a looming brute of a man; and when he makes the boy sleep that night in the fearsome "cubby hole," that space behind the wall is suddenly filled with vivid depictions of the monsters of young imagination. Craig's teasing classmates at school are fanged grotesques, rendered in a manner suggestive of some of Harvey Kurtzman's most expressive works. Many of the most evocative sequences are entirely without verbal content: the pictures and their sequence producing a powerful effect by being "silent."

            Much of the story takes place during winter, and the snow, blanketing the ground, is one of Thompson's recurring visual motifs. In scenes of gleaming whiteness, he suggests sometimes the solitude of the single human soul and sometimes the bond that unites Craig and Raina but keeps them separate, in their own world together. In one of their first adventures, they lie in the snow and make snow angels. Later, after Craig has returned home and spring comes, the melting of the snow signals the dissolution of the relationship between the two young lovers. Trees are also a motif in the story, suggesting life, and,  perhaps, with the seasonal loss and reappearance of leaves, the cyclical nature of life as well as its transitory aspect.

            The physical part of the love affair is rendered in tangles of nearly naked anatomy: the images are not grossly explicit but dreamlike, beautifully, delicately achieved and thereby wonderfully evocative of both the heat and hesitancy of adolescent love. In the hands of a less skilled artist, no such effect would be possible.

            Their love affair becomes the means of Craig's escape from the repressive religious life his parents have imposed upon him. He comes to realize that his love affair with Raina, a brief and poignant engagement in real life, was an idyl, as delusional in its own way as his parents' religious beliefs and practices are life-denying in theirs. After the snow melts, Craig is cautioned by the preacher against going to a secular college where he might take drawing classes at which naked people pose for the students. On the next page, Craig phones Raina and breaks it off with her. Then he finds all of the mementoes of their relationship and burns them. Everything except the blanket she'd made for him.

            Early in the book, Craig, in the grip of Christian fervor, burns all of the drawings he made as a boy, figuratively giving himself to Christ. At the end of the book, after burning the things he shared with Raina, he contemplates the blanket, its squares of cloth suggesting to him the panels of a comic strip telling a story, which, in this case, since Raina used several pieces of the same bits of cloth, placing them in a pattern, seems cyclical.

            In the last scene of the book, Craig goes for a walk in the snow, marveling that his footprints leave marks on the blank surface behind him, "a map of his movement-no matter how temporary." As he utters these words, Craig looks up into the night sky past a grove of trees standing at the edge of the snow. He has come of age, and he has returned to drawing again-in this case, making comics into a graphic novel of great sensitivity and insight.

MORE CIVILIZATION AT THE LAST OUTPOST. The "bad girl" phase in funnybooks, distinguished by pictures of nearly naked zaftig females posed menacingly with large firearms or sharp-edged implements, is a blatant appeal to certain kinds of immature (or slowly maturing) adolescent boys, who, despite raging hormones that urge them on to encounters with their opposite sex, feel so inhibited by the prospect of such encounters that they do nothing except smirk softly and lurk fearfully on the sidelines. Manhood in this chrysalis stage is geekhood. In short, these are perfect fanboys, funnybook addicts, made-to-order for "bad girl" comics. Or vice versa. To these emerging species, the female is at once a figure, so to speak, enticingly sexy and dauntingly foreboding. Something desperately desired but, at the same time, inspiring intense trepidation. "Bad girls" embody these emotions. Their basketball bosoms and medicine ball buttocks, their long shapely legs and wasp-thin waists blare sex appeal to the male of the breed. But their weaponry and hostile expressions give the male animal pause: threatened, he hangs back, geek-like.

            Faithful Freudians will recognize at once in the threatening female the unconscious fantasy of the all-devouring woman, who, in other manifestations, is the succubus of antique myth and legend-that female demon who "descends upon and has sexual intercourse with a man while he sleeps" and then, presumably, drains him of his soul. The aural imagery of the word succubus suggests "sucking," an action of the mouth to which the engorgement of the vampire is akin-hence, the "bad girl" as Vampirella and her ilk. More all-devouring females.

            The sexual threat in this shadowy unconscious drama is somewhat diminished when the females are not sexually mature. The current craze of manga women serves this agenda admirably: although they have the bodies of mature females, their faces bespeak pre-adolescence. These are "school girls," too young to be a sexual threat. (But they are a reminder of the unsavory fact that child trafficking, selling children into slavery either for sexual or other purposes, is a $10-billion-a-year industry, world-wide.)

            "School girls" may not be a sexual threat, but the imagery of bosomy women in skirts short enough to reveal their panties inflames rapt beholders, fanning the raging hormonal fires within, creating a fresh conflagration that consumes itself with studied "watching" of the objects of desire, another manifestation of adolescent geekhood-a voyeuristic phenomenon for which comic books, made for "watching," are perfectly suited.

            The occasional oasis in the midst of this pubescent heat of alternating desire and fear is afforded by such images as Joseph Michael Linsner supplies in his portraits of the perpetually passive Dawn, a surpassing specimen of female embonpoint, who, by simply standing there (or reclining there or sitting there) and gazing out at us with a barely discernable smile on her lips, is beauty without threat, her passivity negating completely any threat that her well-burnished sexuality poses.

           Ah, that smile, the smile of Mona Lisa that has defied explanation for generations. I think I know that smile, and its cause. In my conceit, I believe I saw it last summer, one evening in San Diego in a dockside restaurant. I was dining alone so I was free to observe the other clientele in the place. And my table was situated on a thoroughfare in the restaurant, an aisle up and down which patrons sauntered. All at once, I saw, coming in my direction, a young woman, strikingly attired in a long duster-like garment that billowed around her well-trousered legs as she walked. She had long, dark hair, softly curling around her face. She was tall, and her face was beautiful without being stunning. Walking by my table, she was in my view long enough that I could admire her. And then, she saw me, saw that I was admiring her, and she smiled, ever so slightly-for just an instant before a becoming modesty straightened her lips again. The smile, that Mona Lisa smile, revealed that she knew she was being admired-and that she liked it. The brevity of the smile's duration as well as the slightness of the curve of her lips showed her to be conscious of a certain necessary decorum in such matters. She may have felt like grinning broadly, but a well-mannered woman doesn't grin like a banshee when she realizes she's being admired. Pin-up queens and girlie magazine strumpets might grin unabashed at you (in triumphant realization that their physical charms have vanquished you), but a woman of normal modesty seldom reveals her secret pleasure at being admired. This one did, for just an instant-a Mona Lisa instant.

UNDER THE SPREADING PUNDITRY. With a couple object lessons before us, we know that the Bush League excels at war. It just isn't any good at peace or any of the messy maneuverings of a noncombative domesticity. In other words, George WMD Bush and his cohorts are good warriors but lousy governors. We see the evidence both abroad and, alas, at home. They're good at exercising force but not exercising the powers of persuasion without the threat of violence. And the wars they've ostensibly won, they won with Bill Clinton's army-remember? The military that was dangerously degraded and couldn't mount three combat-ready divisions? That military. The Bush League had no time to change that status of the military it'd inherited before the crises of 9/11 forced it to commit U.S. troops to battle, so it was with Clinton's degraded nearly worthless army that the Taliban were ousted and Iraq invaded.

            Wait a minute. Here's a fragment of the history of the Invasion of Iraq that I think we all overlooked. All of us but Will Durst. Lemme see if I have this right: George WMD Bush got on nation-wide tv on a Monday night and told Saddam he had 48 hours to get out of town. Then on Wednesday, 46 hours later-upon learning where Saddam might be hangin' out-Boy George ordered Clinton's army to drop bombs on Saddam. That's 46 hours later. Said Durst: "Kind of pre-empting the pre-emptive thing." Who needs integrity in the White House when we have good ol' Dubya? Is it any wonder no one in the world believes what Americans say?

            And that's not all. Here's some more:

            Now the chickies are comin' home to roost. Surely Karl Rove was smart enough to realize that-well, no: clearly he wasn't. The much heralded "Leave No Child Behind" education bill George WMD Bush signed with much fanfare eighteen months ago (for which he then did not budget enough money to implement) has, just a little over a year later, yielded the result that every educator witnessing this legislative debacle knew would eventually arrive. Parents in Chicago who have kids in schools that didn't meet the law's standards now have the right to transfer their kids to schools that scored higher on the tests. But-who'd a thunk it?-those schools are already jammed, and there are no vacancies for the kids of the exodus from the low-ranking schools. Hence, we have just another demonstration, in the proverbial nutshell, of Bush League politics: promise whatever they want whether it can be delivered or not. All hat and no cattle indeed. As I said, you'd have thought Karl Rove was smart enough to avoid this sort of pitfall: the idea is that Boy George should be out of the White House and retired to Crawford, Texas, before any of the results of his dangerously deluded legislative programs materialize. But this one came up too fast, so now it's clear that Boy George prevaricates. Time for regime change.

            AND: Why isn't anyone talking about the oil money in Iraq? Everybody's jawing about how we don't want to give some other nation's military commander authority over our troops-as if that's the big hurdle to be overcome in getting international help with restoring Iraq. But that's not the real hurdle. It's the oil money that will make it difficult to recruit any real assistance in rebuilding the country from other nations: we don't want to share in the revenue from the oil fields. What's that you say? The Iraqis are getting the money from the oil? Well, sure. All the discussion last spring came down to this (said over and over again): the money from the oil fields will be used to help Iraqis in reconstruction. So the money goes to the Iraqis, right? Well, no. The contracts for reconstruction have been let to multi-national companies based in the U.S.-Halliburton, Bechtel, etc. So if France and Germany and Russia prove a little slow to take us up on our U.N. offer to join us in the fun in the sands of Iraq, it could be that their reluctance is inspired by their understandable desire to share in the oil revenue if their troops are going to take their share of shots from the terrorist guerillas-not to mention their desire that, somehow, Iraq pay off the billion-dollar debts it's run up in France and Germany and Russia.

            Predicting the end of U.S. involvement  in Iraq: troops will be withdrawn in September or October 2004, just in time for George WMD Bush to declare, unilaterally (and without any visible evidence in support of his contentions)-triumphantly!-victory over terrorism, democracy in Iraq, and a revived economy at home. Then we'll all go to the polls and re-elect him.

AND SPEAKING OF ELECTIONS. Lessee-Gray Davis is being recalled because he plunged the state of California into a huge deficit ($38 million-or was it $38 billion? I have trouble with long lines of zeroes); and George WMD Bush has created a deficit on the federal level ($525 million or billion, comparable at any rate) that dwarfs California's, so why isn't anyone recalling Boy George?

            The Republican scheme, ever since Ronald Reagan, has been to reduce federal government by impoverishing it through tax cuts and wild spending; that shifts the tax burden onto the states, some of which can ill afford to shoulder it. In fact, one of the historic reasons for federal government taking over so many tasks is that the federal government can re-distribute the tax revenues equitably, according to need. The Bush League's plan will take us back in history to the time when the poor states were poor and the rich states were rich, and never the twain would meet.

            Privatize Social Security? That means, in the simplest-minded interpretation, that individual citizens are responsible for their retirement portfolios. Seems to me they usually fail at this sort of thing, taken as a group; and it is the failure of individual citizens to manage their finances in ways that insure a comfortable retirement that prompted the creation of a federal social security system to begin with. Are we smarter now?

            But individuals won't be able to manage their so-called "private" accounts. Those accounts will be managed by some government or quasi-government agency. The Bush League knows us individual citizens aren't smart enough to do it on our own. The managing agency will invest in the stocks of the businesses that need capital to expand. In other words, the Bush League "social security" plan isn't about your security or mine: it's about getting more money into the hands of Dick Cheney's business buddies. But we knew that, right?

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Someone has at last found the appropriate symbol for George WMD Bush. A toy manufacturer has produced a 1:6 scale action figure of the Commander in Chief in the pilot's regalia he donned for his carrier landing to announce the end of combat in Iraq. Yup: Boy George is a toy boy doll. Now if only they could make the doll fire weapons of mass destruction from its finger-tips he'd be a comic book character. Wait: he already is.

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