Friday, August 10, 2012

Captain Nemo vs Captain Ahab

I was wathing some old cartoons on some of those dollar DVDs and I had a strange thought that tied into the legacy of Moby Dick.

The show was called The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo, that 1970s cartoon that appeared during Captain Kangaroo. It stars Captain Nemo in charge of the ship the Nautilus in adventures under the sea.

I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea about three years ago now. As I watch this, it is obviously another guy, someone younger and kinder to children--he has two kid sidekicks, a boy and a girl.. But why the name?

It is Captain Nemo. Mark Nemo is the full name. It is the Nautilus. But why? Why couldn't they have used any other name for the captain and any other name for the ship? It must be because we as an audience know the names. We possess enough background information to know Nemo and Nautilus are under the sea.Yet, if we knew anything about the Verne novel, we would know that Nemo is really not that benevolent of a character; in fact, I would call him the bad guy of the novel. Remember all those ships he sank?

This is close to what we in the 21st century know about Captain Ahab and the whale.We know enough even though we may never have read the book. Before I finally finished every god-awful word, I knew all the major plot points about the novel, and could understand just about any allusion made to the book.

Nemo was made into a good guy. That's because we don't really know. I would love to survey the general public because I bet that most would think that Captain Nemo was the benevolent protagonist of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Captain Ahab could never be made into a good guy. The world, even without reading the book, knows him as that crazy guy who was obsessed with killing that whale. Captain Ahab could never become a lighthearted children's show character to be shown during Captain Kangaroo.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Manhunter comic book Moby Dick reference

I sometimes find Moby Dick references in the weirdest of places, places I would not have expected.

In the fifty-cent bin, I found a copy of Manhunter #1 from DC Comics, July 1988. I have always wanted to try the series because it has had a remarkable reputation in comic book circles for being cancelled and having fan write-ins bring the series back to life. At least twice, if memory serves.

I think this reference is just a fluke though. Manhunter looks like this:

The very first words on page one are basically an introductory quote to grab the attention of the reader:

"All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event...some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If a man will strike, strike through the mask!" --Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The great husband and wife writing team of John Ostrander and Kim Yale probably came across this cool quote about "masks" and being superhero comic book writers probably filed it away for use one day. It does touch upon the fact, especially in late 80s comic books, on the psychology of why these characters put on masks and fought crime.

Even though I believe it is a fluke, there is still the allusion to "obsession" tied to the quote. Why would he do all these things if not obsessed; think Batman.

Now I wonder if anybody has ever tied in Batman's obsession with Captain Ahab's.

Moby Dick whale skeleton from 1825 is saved for the nation with £500,000 national lottery funding | Mail Online

Moby Dick whale skeleton from 1825 is saved for the nation with £500,000 national lottery funding | Mail Online:

Fascinating. Just the inspiration is supposedly worth this much. Not that I had ever heard of this whale skeleton before. I even wonder why it was saved in the first place!

"The remains of the 1825 sperm whale have been immaculately preserved since inspiring author Herman Melville to write his sea-faring classic."
Read more:

According to the article, "The 58.5ft skeleton was visited by Melville in the 1800s when he came to England to research Moby Dick. 
He was so taken in by an exhibit of the whale that he included a direct reference to it in his 1851 novel."

The really interesting part are the COMMENTS on the article that say repeatedly how this is such a waste of money!!

And I just realized that this is all on a BRITISH newspaper, at a BRITISH castle, yada yada...when Moby-Dick is considered an AMERICAN novel.

Read more:

'via Blog this'

Monday, August 6, 2012

Patchwork: Good fences don't always make good neighbors | Addison County Independent

Patchwork: Good fences don't always make good neighbors | Addison County Independent:

Now this is funny. A gardener likens the woodchuck in the lawn to Moby Dick:
"Moby Dick the woodchuck is back.No, he is not an albino woodchuck. He just keeps resurfacing."
They tried everything to get rid of the vegetation-devouring pest but nothing worked. It became an obsession.
At the end, they compared a bigger animal in another garden:
“'You should have seen what happened the day a moose came and lay down in my potato patch.'
A moose? Now there’s a Moby Dick!"

Note, the author of the article also alluded to another American writer in the title. Robert Frost's "Mending Wall."

Batman vs Moby Dick

From the very first Batman #9, way, way back. It's not Captain Ahab but it might as well be. There is no actual mention of the name "Moby Dick" but who else could it be? This is clearly an homage to the novel. Batman even rides the back of a whale! They even show, quite well too, what happens to a whale once they harpoon it. Batman killed the whale. Just an interesting little footnote to Moby Dick lore. A story explicitly for kids of the time, and they probably understood the references to the novel. That's also why I am a little surprised that there is no mention of the book. I sort of expected Robin to say something at the end like he was going to read the book now, and maybe the kids at home should go read it too.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

G.I. Joe vs Moby Dick

Just watching the 1980s cartoon series of G.I. Joe.

In episode three, as they are waiting to deep sea dive for their mission and the diver Joe known as Torpedo is coming in some kind of submarine vehicle, one of the Joes says:

"If that's Moby Dick, I'm checking out!"

Again, it's definitely a kid's show. Boys are the target audience, usually pre-teen.The reference is out there.

Understandably, Moby Dick is supposed to be an adventure story. Shouldn't boys be reading adventure stories? But at that age?

I was pretty much forced to try reading it in seventh grade by my teacher, Mrs. Connolly. I had chosen novels that she considered too short for our classic independent book reports. She basically said I needed a longer book and Moby Dick is an adventure book, to try that.