International Ninja Day

They could be behind you and you wouldn’t know. One could be sitting next to you as you read this. Ninjas. International Ninja Day recognizes the history and influence in pop culture of the Ninja. Whether it’s a historical period film of feudal Japan, or a bunch of mutated turtles who were trained by a mutated rat, Ninjas have become a large part of pop culture in the US. The international holiday was started in 2003 by Ninja Burger to celebrate the Ninja Speed their burgers were delivered. You are encouraged to learn about the art of Ninjitsu and not eat a bunch of burgers. 

Ninjas were also called Shinobi. They were covert agents and mercenaries in feudal Japan. Their specialties included espionage, deception, and surprise attacks. This irregular warfare was considered dishonorable and beneath the honor of the Samurai. Despite the influences of pop culture, historic accounts of real ninjas are scarce. I’d wager this is because they were skilled in the art of deception and ‘invisibility.’ They were invisible in the way Batman hides in the dark to be invisible. I would like to point out there is no International Samurai Day and I feel this is equally important to learn about. So…watch out for Ninjas!

Coffee and Contemplation: American Artists Appreciation Month

We’re coming to the end of August and I wish I had posted about this sooner. August is American Artists Appreciation Month. In simple terms, appreciate artists from the United States. This recognition is more for traditional artists with their work in galleries, I imagine. However, I want to recognize two artists who’s creations have shaped pop culture for over 75 years. The first is Bob Kane, co-creator of The Batman with the writer Bill Finger. They also created a number of Batman’s early villains. After retiring from DC Comics in the 1960’s Kane focused on fine art and had many works featured in galleries though many of them were completed by ghost painters.

The second artist I wish to recognize is Jack Kirby. He co-created Captain America with Joe Simon as writer-editor. In the 1960’s, he teamed up with Stan Lee and co-created the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Thor, the Hulk, and Iron Man. In the early 70’s, he left Marvel to work at DC where he created the Fourth World saga, to include characters such as Darkseid, Granny Goodness, Mister Miracle, and hundreds of others. Many of these characters are my favorites in all of comics and they don’t get much recognition in the mainstream. That is why I wanted to share my appreciation for Jack Kirby. Dear DC, I want to see more from the Fourth World saga.