Ramblings & Reviews

Comic Piracy

Pet peeve:
People substituting their own joke over someone else’s cartoon.

As a meme it’s lazy, and adds the insult of disregarding the original artist as they always crop out their signature.

-Jim Keefe

Ramblings & Reviews

Intro to Anime

When I was in my 20s the groundbreaking anime film Akira was released here in the States. It pretty much blew any American made animation that was being produced at the time out of the water.

That said – this got me to thinking about how woefully ignorant I am in regards to anime, so I put together the following as a tutorial…

For this first part I deferred to my daughter Tessa (who was thirteen at the time this post was originally written). She loves manga and took Japanese as a language in Middle School.


Note: Tessa wouldn’t let me include a photo, so I posted a manga style drawing instead. And yes, her volleyball team was district champions.

As far as a kid-friendly intro goes, Tessa gave Shawna Howson’s intro to anime videos a thumbs up, and ads that her explanation of Shōjo in the following installment is especially dead on.

And for those who slam Shōjo,
here’s Howson’s rebuttal…


An American animated series (with definite anime roots) that Tessa recommended highly is Avatar: The Last Airbender.


This is NOT to be confused with the movie by M. Night Shyamalan. The strengths of the animated series are actually best made in this episode where the Nostalgia Critic compares the animated series to the movie.

The following recommendations are from MCAD alum Allison O’Brien. In addition to being a fantastic artist she was also President of the MCAD Anime Club back in the day.


From here on in, all comments in italics are from Allison.

These are the ones I can think of off the top of my head, but it seems about right.

Princess Mononoke

Ghost in the Shell

Spirited Away

Grave of the Fireflies

Perfect Blue – Personal preference.

Tokyo Godfathers


Redline – For sheer style ALONE.

Kid-friendly picks. Spirited Away (listed above) was one.
Here’s more…

Castle in the Sky

The Cat Returns

My Neighbor Totoro

Kiki’s Delivery Service – Really just anything Ghibli are quite good.

Maybe add Summer Wars, though it might be pushing it.

The ones listed in my previous list are pretty violent/psychological in nature (ESPECIALLY avoid Perfect Blue and Grave of the Fireflies).
Princess Mononoke may also cut it, but it does have some decapitations/similar violent imagery.

Manga Recommendations:
Note: Among Westerners, “manga” refers to Japanese comics.

Most of what I gave you previously were movies, so here’s a few series that are great to get into. I mean clearly I could give more, but I figured some series to balance out the movies would be good.

Monster – Psychological drama, very intense.


Mushi-shi – Cerebral/spiritual, emotional experience.


Hunter x Hunter – My preference is the 2011 version, but the ’99 one is still great, incredibly smart and influential.


Baccano – Colorful cast, unique storytelling.


Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Known as one of the best shounen series, for good reasons.


Mononoke – Insanely gorgeous.


This is the default chart that tends to get sent around when people ask for recommendations.


-Allison O’Brien

So there you go. This at leasts gives you a starting point if you’re new to all this. And if you’re not new to it, titles you may be unfamiliar with to look out for.

Before signing off I’d like to thank Allison for her recommendations. To see more of her work, check out her portfolio at

Also check out her progress blog at
Fun stuff!

Ramblings & Reviews

COVID-109 Info at

For comprehensive info go to

Also the New York Times has free coverage at
The Coronavirus Outbreak.

Wishing you and yours all the best during these difficult times.

-Jim Keefe

Ramblings & Reviews

Healthcare Professionals on the Front Lines

Editorial Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

I had to make a run to an Extended Care facility recently (I was scheduled to pick up meds for someone – not an unessential visit). Upon entering I had my temperature taken and had use of surgical gloves before bing admitted. While I was waiting an unnamed incident happened on the floor above us so the unit was put into lockdown – no one could come in or out unless it was deemed absolutely necessary by staff. Residents who wanted to get a smoke started to congregate. Very quickly some started getting impatient – then indignant.

One heavyset man in a motorized wheelchair started yelling at the staff, “I’m 70 years old – you can’t tell me what to do! They don’t tell us nothin’ here! What is this – a PRISON?!

Tensions in the room kept getting higher as the lockdown continued. The yelling continued. Throughout it the staff stayed calm, obviously accustomed to such behavior and refusing to escalate the situation by echoing the patient’s aggravation.

Eventually the lockdown ended and the residents/patients got their smokes – crisis averted.

A very small reminder to me of the countless number of doctors and staff who are on the front lines dealing with the endless ramifications/repercussions of this pandemic head on – day in and day out in. The work being done on our behalf by the medical profession right now is incalculable and I am in awe of their dedication and sacrifice. And the inconvenience of self isolating on my part seems pretty small in comparison.

and that’s my two cents…

-Jim Keefe

Ramblings & Reviews

Irish Comic Book Characters

Road to Perdition

First one off is Michael O’Sullivan from the graphic novel Road to Perdition. It was written by Max Allan Collins with fantastic art by Richard Piers Rayner.

Set during the prohibition era of Al Capone and Elliot Ness, Michael O’Sullivan is a ruthless but honorable enforcer of Irish mob boss John Rooney. When he is betrayed – resulting in his wife and child being murdered – O’Sullivan sets out to protect his only surviving child and exact revenge. 

In 2002 it was adapted into a film starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.

Follow up graphic novels by Max Allen Collins include On the Road to Perdition drawn by José Luis García-López and Steve Lieber, and Return to Perdition drawn by Terry Beatty.

Black Canary

Black Canary with Zatanna.
From the Paul Dini graphic novel Bloodspell drawn by Joe Quinones.

From Banshee to Siryn to Silver Banshee it seems like many Irish comic book characters have superhuman vocal traits – drawn from the old Irish folklore of the Banshee. The Black Canary is no exception.

Created by the writer-artist team of Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino, the Black Canary is a master in hand-to-hand combat. Her superpower is the canary cry, an ultrasonic vibration when she screams that can disable an opponent.


Daredevil was created by writer/editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett – and later retooled by Wally Wood.

While growing up in the gritty Irish-American neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, Matt Murdock saves a pedestrian by pushing him out of the way of an oncoming truck but in doing so is struck by a radioactive substance that falls from the vehicle.

His exposure to the radioactive chemicals blinds him, but also heightens his remaining senses giving him superhuman abilities.

The Netflix series Daredevil draws heavily from Frank Miller’s take on the character.

I highly recommend the acclaimed graphic novel Daredevil: Born Again by writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli (pictured above).

Secret Agent X-9

I’m sneaking a comic strip character into the mix here…

Secret Agent X-9 was created by writer Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) and drawn by artist Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon) and first ran in newspapers on January 22, 1934. In the 1960s it was written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Al Williamson and relaunched as Secret Agent Corrigan.

Though never referred to as Irish, when I wrote and drew a cross-over story between Secret Agent X-9 and Flash Gordon in the year 2000, that’s what I always had in the back of my mind.

Side note: And when X-9 and Flash first come face-to-face, I had no other than legendary EC artist George Evans draw the page…

And last but not least…

Captain America

 Captain America was created by the legendary team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941. The iconic cover of Captain America punching Hitler in the face came out a full 8 months before the United States even entered the war.

From a 2016 article by Ruairi Scott Byrne:

While Captain America may be a representation of the ultimate American, it turns out that the Marvel superhero is actually just a good ole Irish lad at heart.

Chris Evans, who portrays Cap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has revealed the character’s deep Irish roots and how his own Irish family made him a better man.

“There are a lot of similarities between us. I was raised a good Catholic Irish boy at heart, so was ‘Cap’,” the actor told the Irish Sun. “Our sensibilities and ideologies come from that. That sense of morality, very much stems from that.”

“The difference is Cap was first generation Irish. His folks actually came from Ireland, they came over at the turn of the last century. Yeah, I read all this in the notes, Marvel sends it to you, they want you knowing your research.

“So everything he knew from a young age was Irish. And that’s a big part of who he is, that moral code he lives by, you know, you could totally call him Captain Ireland,” he said.

Evans hails from Boston and revealed that ‘being a good catholic boy’ helped to teach him his manners.

“My heritage is a little more diluted, there’s Italian but we were definitely an Irish Catholic house. I’m a good Catholic Irish boy. And I like to think I’ve held onto that.

“I think my attitude is very reflective of that. I like to be direct and to the point but also polite and respectful at the same time,” he added.

Are there characters I’m missing? If so please comment below.

And please remember, read comics responsibly…