Monday, November 10, 2008

Gran'ma Ben

The Sunday before last, I, my brother, and his family went on a shopping expedition to San Antonio. Along the way we stopped in at the Heros and Fantasies store in Universal City. This is one of our old hunting grounds for action figures, which we hadn't visited for some time, so we decided to drop in and see what was being offered these days.

What was being offered these days turned out to be what had been offered in those days. I couldn't identify any new product, and what was there was covered with dust. Apparently the store gets along on its comics and gaming. And to be honest, the action figure boom has almost died out; I blame the gyott-dang vidya games. Soon I fear it will all dwindle down to super-hero movie tie-ins and expensive action models.

Anyway, I am still going to buy action figures, the same way I buy real paper books. I was determined not to leave the store without at least one figure. I found Gran'ma Ben cast down on an end-cap amidst a jumble of oddments. I've always been interested in this figure, because while action figures of women are rare, and of old men even rarer, a figure of an old woman is extremely rare. I can only think of two others: Mulan's Grandmother and Granny Gross from Ghostbusters. I'd seen Gran'ma Ben all over the place: in Florida, at Bussey's Flea Market, at other comics shops. The thin film of dust on her plastic blister decided me; today she would go home with me. I was barely able to make out the faded price tag: $17.95.

Gran'ma Ben is a great figure. She's seven inches tall and comes with a coin on a necklace and "The Mystery Cow" costume. This rubbery shell is designed for another figure in the Bone line, Smiley Bone, and is connected with a story in the graphic novel Bone. Her defining characteristics are her big meaty arms, squinting eyes, and a chin that would make Mammy Yoakum jealous. All in all she looks like a friendly giantess in a fairy tale.

Getting this figure finally made me look into Bone is all about. We had been aware of it for years, and been vaguely annoyed by it's obvious indebtedness in style to Walt Kelly's Pogo; I think that that prejudice in me has been worn away. What I read about it interests me, and the fact that a complete edition of the entire run of the comic book exists make me more likely to get into it. I have once more identified a facet of my personality, that occurs to me and then is forgotten; I hate to take something a little bit at a time over a span of time. Some things have to be around in a large quantity to take in all at once so I can see how they develop.

No comments: