...Of Spectacled Boys and Owl Companions

During the early 1990s P10 could go a long way for comic book reading kids like me at the time, since it was still possible to buy comic books at P10 from National Bookstore, and take note that these were not mere PsiCom reprints but legitimate back issues of DCs and Marvels. It was the time way before Comic Quest was cool and it was the time when Filbar's only has 2 branches and that it still sticks to its 'comics only' sales strategy.

Looking back at that great period in National Bookstore I was one of those fortunate kids who were able to partake of the P10 comic book bargain blessing of National Bookstore and it was during that time that I was able to collect a substantial amount of comics to create a library of
comic books, it was there where I was able to buy my a lot of Giffen/De Matteis JLA/JLE, as well as almost complete the Millenium Crossover series of DC and also buy a lot of cool individual comics ranging from Superman's Time & Time Again, Red Glass Trilogy; The Flash; Armageddon 2001; a number of Batman & Detective Comics; Jim Lee/Portacio era X-Men & X-Force. And during that time comic book collecting was just for fun and not the aspect of collecting it for its future value, and it was that grand time of wonderful storytelling just in time before the sudden emergence of such mindless scarred super-heroes from Image Comics (Spawn, WildCATS, Supreme, Youngblood, Witchblade etc) and the eventual de-evolution of DC and Marvel into merely writing about super-heroes fighting the next big bad supervillain in a dire attempt to save the universe as we know it. (i.e. Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, Eclipso The Darkness Within, Bloodlines, Underworld Unleashed, Marvel Versus DC, Amalgam, Final Night etc.)

And that I could even devote another post for such adventures that I've had during that exciting time in my life, but this post is not intended for that.

It has been the'in' thing for a couple of years now and that almost (if not) everybody who are so pretensiously projecting an intellectual yet youthful image have been bragging of being a fan of such a sod little spectacled boy named Harry Potter. And this is about that boy and how its creator JK Rowling have somewhat a lot of things to explain concerning its startling coincidences about Potter's startling similarities with a Neil Gaiman creation called Tim Hunter.

Now you might be asking what on earth does this have to do with the time that I was still able to buy cheap comic books at National Bookstore?

Please read further.

The year was 1994 when I was about to graduate from elementary when I just so happen to buy a copy of this graphic novel called The Books Of Magic Volume 4 at National Bookstore, Tutuban for a startling price of P20 (or lesser I've long since forgotten, but I'm pretty sure its the
closest guess). It was written by Niel Gaiman and published in 1990 by DC Comics in a prestige graphic novel format, with its pages layered by the masterful artworks from Paul Johnson.

During that time I simply bought it because I believe that in comic book collecting its really cool to have a graphic novel in your collection, and that it was only sold for P20 that makes it quite a bargain for me since graphic novels and Trade Paperback collection of comic books at
the time were already pegged at P300 and can be bought only at Filbars. So what I did was that I immediately grabbed the opportunity and bought it right away along with this other graphic novel called Twilight, written by Howard Chaykin and illustrated by Jose-Luis Garcia-Lopez.

The story wasn't that alien to me since earlier at the time I've already somewhat read a summary of the story which was written on the back of three DC Cosmic Teams trading cards, with its entry on The Worlds Of Magic. But as to my astonishment the comic book was beyond that of the ordinary trading card article and not to mention the fact that what I have with me is only a single volume of the entire collection thus containing only a portion of the overall story.

For those of you who haven't heard of the story yet, it just goes like this:

Herein we follow a young man, Tim Hunter, destined to be one of the greatest mages in history, as he introducted to magicks past, magic in present day world, the lands just beyond commonplace reality and magicks future by four DC Comics magicians: the Phantom Stranger (condemned to walk for eternity); Dr. Occult (who switches gender and personae as the occasion demands); John Constantine, Hellblazer (a con man and rogue, few powers but he has taken on the Devil himself and survived); and
Mister E (a dangerous fanatic on the side of order).

Last year, Neil Gaiman, British author of The Sandman, pointed out that his 1990 work, The Books of Magic, features a dark-haired, bespectacled boy who discovers he's a wizard and is accompanied by a magic owl. Rowling had said that 1990 was the year the idea for the Harry Potter series came into her head on a train journey. Rowling has not been shy about admitting other influences, especially C. S. Lewis, and most readers will easily spot other literary forerunners throughout the first three Potter books, including Lewis Caroll's Alice books, Enid Blyton's Mallory Towers, Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's Schooldays, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, T.H. White's The Sword In The Stone and some of the classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm.

According to Gaiman, he was contacted months ago by a journalist who had noticed that Tim Hunter and Harry Potter were similar and wanted Gaiman's comments on the connection. Gaiman replied that, no, he didn't think the two were connected and that neither he or Rowling were the first to write young magicians with potential stories.

...and Neil himself said (through Puck at The Dreaming)

"I was surprised to discover from yesterday's MIRROR that I'm meant to have accused J.K. Rowling of ripping off BOOKS OF MAGIC for HARRY POTTER.

Simply isn't true -- and now it's on the public record it'll follow me around forever.

Back in November I was tracked down by a Scotsman journalist who had noticed the similarities between my Tim Hunter character and Harry Potter, and wanted a story. And I think I rather disappointed him by explaining that, no, certainly *didn't* believe that Rowling had ripped off Books of Magic, that I doubted she'd read it and that it wouldn't matter if she had: I wasn't the first writer to create a young magician with potential, nor was Rowling the first to send one to school. It's not the ideas, it's what you do with them that matters.

Genre fiction, as Terry Pratchett has pointed out, is a stew. You take stuff out of the pot, you put stuff back. The stew bubbles on.

(As I said to the Scotsman journalist, the only thing that was a mild bother was that in the BOOKS OF MAGIC movie Warners is planning, Tim Hunter can no longer be a bespectacled, 12 year old English kid. But given the movie world I'll just be pleased if he's not played by a middle-aged large-muscled

Not sure how this has transmuted into "Gaiman has accused Rowling of ripping him off." But I suppose it's a better story than the truth."

So no, there isn't any reality to a Rowling / Gaiman Courtroom Deathmatch...sorry.

"I was surprised to discover from yesterday's Mirror [18 March 2000] that I'm meant to have accused J.K.Rowling of ripping off Tim Hunter from Books of Magic for Harry Potter. Simply isn't true -- and now it's on the public record it'll follow me around forever.

Take it as it may be. I am no Harry Potter fan. The thought of its overall concept seems silly for my type. Growth in terms of his magical skill etc. doesn't do much for me, more depth can be had if you'd watch five consecutive episodes of Bob Brush's The Wonder Years, maybe what I'm saying is that all this Harry Potter hype has been done to death especially with shows that dealt with the occult (Charmed, Buffy, Angel and Sabrina I'm definitely looking at your direction).

As opposed to when Gaiman did his take on the whole idea and then left it off to other writers to go around it. Another is the whole idea that Tim Hunter (the Harry Potter character pattern) in the end of Gaiman's story chose to rather not have anything to do with magic or magick as how it was reffered to in the story.

Now you may be thinking that I'm just a sour graping geek that's angry because I can't ride the HP bandwagon but no. I'm just saying that while the rest of the world adores and gives their respects to the bespectacled boy has an owl for a companion other stories get ignored. And it just so happened that the amazing story of Gaiman's Books of Magic that was blatantly given a poor light with this HP hype.

So what's with the Gaiman's book anyways?

You may ask?

It's a difficult thing to put a finger on, but there's something about that book that I really like. The book is an expertly crafted story, showcasing many aspects of the Gaiman imagination. The art is great, perfectly demonstrating the skills of the four artists involved. And the characters are a whole bunch of DC's back catalogue from throughout the ages.

For starters, there are a lot characters to take in, but for folks like me who've been an avid fan of the universe that spawned Batman & Superman such is a fun thing, moreover its ambicious to tackle a whole bunch of characters and weave them into an amazing narrative of Tim's experience.

All of them are from DC's occult universe, though there's no reason why you should know any of them (or there are if you're into exploring the DC universe), except for maybe John 'Hellrazer' Constantine (whom most of you don't probably know co-exists on the same universe with Superman) and a couple of cameos by some siblings of the Sandman. Both Constantine and the Sandman crew feature in far superior work in their own books. Here you have something that feels like an advert for their other titles.

The main character, Tim Hunter, is a 12-year-old boy, deemed to have the potential to become a powerful magician. The story is not completely unlike Dickens' A Christmas Carol, in that Timothy Hunter is shown the past, the present and possible futures by a bunch of DC's spooky occult characters. Unlike Scrooge, Tim is also shown around a few parallel worlds, including old Gaiman favourites Faerie and the Dreaming.

There's no denying there's something of the Harry Potter about this, with Tim's bespectacled appearance, though this is no chicken and egg situation. Gaiman certainly beat Rowling to the young magician concept.

Gaiman has done better and it surprises me that he left his young wizard creation for others to pick up. (Or maybe he ended the story of Tim for good, since it ended with Tim giving up on the path of magic).

It's not a bad book, especially for those people who are skeptical of the literary capabilities of comic books also for those die-hard HP addicts who spend hours and their precious lunch money to be able to buy those expensive books.

i'm off somewhere in europe right now freezing my bollocks for the preservation of life in this wee planet called earth.

that's right i'm presently breathing at a faster pace and constantly rubbing my hands to keep warm as i sit here reading and responding to work related emails from the philippines.
you see the story starts off last sunday in the philippines where after a very emo farewell to jeanie and my family i took off and f
lew here to amsterdam to undergo training for my new media work with greenpeace. so after a grueling 13-hour flight filled with violent movies, the simpsons, fraiser and tetris i finally manage to take an early morning train from schipol to amsterdam and then a tram to the hotel where after dropping off my stuff i immediately reported to the office where i've been going to for the past 2 days now. and just like the way it felt when i was in bangkok i am at the moment still homesick, basically because of the fact that amsterdam is a very nice place and there's no one here i can share it with. it's funny when you have this slick slr camera and the landscapes very nice but you can't take a picture of yourself, you can just photograph the scenery.my loved ones are at home and i'm here and i feel cold not only because of the climate but because i'm again out of my natural habitat and there's no one here with me. thank God its only a couple of days more and then i'll be back.

Free Turkey's Energy Revolutionaries Update

hi folks just an update
In 24 hours, over 2,000 petitions from 54 countries were sent demanding that restrictions on the Turkey activists be lifted and that a climate-friendly energy policy be adopted by the Turkish government. Some time after the first day, the number of petitions went over 4,000. And now they're free... The Istanbul judge stated that she was "well aware of the international pressure being applied."

Thanks to all those who took a few seconds to sign the petition and to forward the cyberaction to others. This is a reminder that quick cyber kick-ass works... Below is the translation of the press release that went out in Turkey.

Greenpeace Welcomes The Turkish Court Lifting Restrictions on the
Climate Activists

Climate Activists: Å“Turkey, must switch to peaceful, renewable energy sources, away from climate changing fossil fuels like coal!

9 September 2005, Can-Canakkale/Istanbul “Can criminal court today lifted the restrictions on the movement of 21 Greenpeace climate activists. The restrictions have no precedent in cases of environmental protest in Turkey. They demonstrated at Can coal-fired power plant on Aug. 29 in protest at the Turkish Government™s dangerous energy policy (1). Had these type of restrictions were not lifted they could have set a negative precedent to quash environmental protest in Turkey.

The 5 foreign nationals who were not able to go back to their countries since more than 10 days were particularly affected. The activists are charged with the law of illegal demonstrations (#2911) and the first court session will be held on Sept. 22.

As a result of the ruling, international pressure is focused on Turkish embassies and the Turkish Government itself. More than 30 Greenpeace offices worldwide wrote to the respective Turkish embassies in their countries demanding that the Turkish authorities do everything in the power to get the bail conditions lifted. Greenpeace supporters from over 50 countries across the world added their voice to the protest with a cyber-action directed to the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul and the Minister of Energy Hilmi Guler (2).

Greenpeace Spokesperson Hilal Atici said:

”The activists took non-violent action to expose a major cause of climate change that threatens to affect us all “ the use of coal in power plants. Recently we”ve witnessed serious extreme weather events in Europe and in the US. We also suffer in Turkey from floods, droughts and increased forest fires. In the medium run, these effects will provoke agricultural deterioration, water shortages and reduce tourism. These catastrophes are examples of the climate chaos caused by our continuing dependence on fossil fuel sources, such as coal, oil and gas. Turkey must take its part in the efforts of the international community to stop this disaster and switch to peaceful renewable energy sources like wind, solar, small hydro, geothermal and biomass.

Greenpeace demands from the Turkish Government that it:
Set a long term renewable energy target of 10% by 2010 and 20% by 2020

Attendand actively engage in the forthcoming meeting of the
• Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition (JREC) in November 2005 that will seek to establish global renewable energy targets

Takepart in the forthcoming International conference on climate change in December on Canada with a view to signing and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

Free Turkey's Energy Revolutionaries!

On the 29th August, 21 Greenpeace volunteers from five countries, including Turkey, the Netherlands, Australia, Israel and Cyprus protested against Turkey's climate-damaging energy policy at a coal-fired power plant. As a result of their actions, they are being confined to Turkish borders without charge for an indefinite period of time until the court case begins.
These excessively harsh bail conditions are an attempt to quash environmental protest in Turkey. No volunteer involved in a Greenpeace action has ever failed to attend a court date, and there is no evidence to indicate that such restrictions are necessary.

Help us get these bail conditions lifted. They represent an unprecedented attack on peaceful civil disobedience and the right to stand up for our future.

Don't let the Energy Revolution be stopped by a crackdown on Energy Revolutionaries.
The Cyberaction to the Turkish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister is live at:


Don't let the Energy Revolution be stopped by a crackdown on Energy

Free Turkey's Energy Revolutionaries!