Saturday, January 29, 2011

Unclear on the Metaphor

Here's the lede to a recent post from Chicagoist:
If you're enjoying the fact that Illinois has become the nation's 95-pound weakling for other Charles Atlas-like Governors to kick sand in our face while attempting to steal our jerbs, you'll love this.
We here at Kicking the Sand always love a good Charles Atlas reference, but sadly, this isn't one of them. We'll forgive Chicagoist the reference to the "95-pound weakling" ("97" is canonical), but really - Charles Atlas would never kick sand in someone's face; that's work for bullies, not for the World's Most Perfectly Developed Man. Sheesh!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

R.I.P. Jack LaLane

Earlier this week, fitness guru Jack LaLane passed away, aged 96. I still recall seeing LaLane on television shows when I was growing up. Many of the dozens of obituaries I've run across also mention Charles Atlas - proof positive (if such a thing were needed) that Atlas is still a touchstone in the world of fitness.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Flex Mentallo to be Reprinted

In good news for fans of comics and muscle mastery, earlier this month DC Comics announced that it would finally reprint the long-sought-after Flex Mentallo four-issue comic book series (originally published in 1996) later this year. Charles Atlas Ltd. once sued DC over the title and character, claiming dilution of trademark; the judge dismissed the case, stating that "This is precisely the type of expression of ideas that the First Amendment is designed to protect." While there's no doubt whatsoever that Flex was inspired by the Atlas advertisements, the miniseries--written by Grant Morrison, with art by Frank Quitely--presents a complex and multifaceted meditation on power, and heroism, and comics, and I'm looking forward to seeing the collected edition on bookstore shelves.

For more details on the reprinting, see Andy Khouri's story at Comics Alliance, "Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely's 'Flex Mentallo' to be Reprinted at Last." For (lots) more on Flex the series, see Jason Craft's The Annotated Flex Mentallo. For more on the legal dispute between Charles Atlas, Ltd. and DC Comics over the Flex comics, see this Associated Press story, as well as A Legal Comparison of Charles Atlas Ads and Flex Mentallo.

The Insult that Made a Man Out of "Obama"

In 2010, editorial cartoonist Ted Rall used a Charles Atlas parody to depict President Barack Obama's reaction to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Click here to visit Rall's website and read the entire comic.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Charles Atlas Parodies - Determination and Transformation

I collect parodies of the famous "The Insult that Made a Man Out of 'Mac'" Charles Atlas advertisement, and I've posted what I call the "determination/ transformation" moments from the original ads as well as from many parodies to a Flickr set titled, perhaps unimaginatively, Charles Atlas Parodies - Determination and Transformation. Take a look and see some of the dozens of ways this iconic sequence has been adapted by a wide variety of cartoonists.

Above: Top - From the original advertisement. Bottom: Tom Motley, from "If Only There Were Heroes Here: A Lipogram in 'Mac,'" from MADE OUT OF "MAC" (TRUE FICTION #8), 2009.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It would be remiss of me to start a blog about Charles Atlas with anything else but the real deal. For all of your official Charles Atlas needs, including a nice little museum, be sure to visit

This blog will be my place to post information about Charles Atlas sightings in the larger pop culture. If you run across a reference to Charles Atlas that you don't see blogged here, please post a comment and let me know about it!