Monday, April 26, 2010

A MASKS Scavenger Hunt!

I feel like doing another contest, so I’m going to give away an autographed copy of this year’s FCBD zine to the first person who can answer all these questions completely and correctly. They’re all clues to people and locations in Masks … and you should be able to answer them with some clever Googling. I think.

1. In the book, the slang word mask is used to describe costumed vigilantes, because they don’t all have superpowers but they’re pretty much all hiding something. In the world of Masks, the term came from the Black Mask, a pulp-style trenchcoat-and-fedora type who made quite a splash in the era of silent movies and remained active until the purge that killed off the heroes. What pioneering pulp magazine gave him his name, and what well-known American satirist started that magazine to support his literary endeavors? (Hint: It wasn’t the one pictured!)

2. The Masked Rider, a cowboy ghost who acts as a kind of Grim Reaper to the masked set, was inspired by a real-life incident where a group of cows broke loose on the Ventura Freeway and a rodeo cowboy, caught in the ensuing traffic jam, unloaded his palomino and proceeded to stage an urban roundup. (The California Highway Patrol wrote him a ticket for riding a horse on the freeway.) The incident was chronicled in the memoir Take An Alternate Route by Paul “Panther” Pierce, one of the original scriptwriters for the Lone Ranger radio show and one of L.A.’s first roving traffic reporters. What radio station did Pierce work for?

3. When Rae and Trevor have a falling-out in Masks, Rae goes to Griffith Park and walks the trails in the dark to think. (Don’t try this at home, kids—the park is closed at night, and you’ll probably walk off a cliff or into a mountain lion if you don’t get arrested!) The park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, and sometimes called the “Central Park of Los Angeles.” What well-known superhero once made his home in the Bronson Canyon section of the park?

4. The hideout Rae and Trevor grudgingly share in Masks is built into a false storm-drain tunnel with an outlet in the Los Angeles River. The real river—including the real storm-drain outlets—is one massive graffiti canvas, and for at least 40 years, a particular kind of face has been regularly appearing, painted by guerrilla artists on storm drain covers. What kind of face is it?

5. The stumper comes last. Rae’s secret hideout has several exits, and one of them is a stone memorial in Exposition Park. I used a real-life memorial plinth as a model for the granite block that Rae moves aside—and I used two shots of the genuine article in the trailer. (You can see the close-up in the “Screenshots” album in the Photos section.) Whom is that plinth a memorial for?


  1. 1. Black Mask -- H. L. Mencken
    2. KMPC
    3. Batman
    4. Cat faces
    5. The Rainbow Division

    please o please o please

  2. Wow! I knew I made this too easy!

    1. Yes, the Black Mask was named after Black Mask Magazine, begun by H.L. Mencken as a glorified fundraiser. The magazine is best known for publishing the first adventures of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.

    2. KMPC-AM 710, formerly the most popular AM radio station in Los Angeles. (The call letters now belong to Radio Korea.)

    3. NanananananananaBATMAN! Yes, the Batcave exteriors for the old Adam West show were filmed in Bronson Canyon.

    4. The cat faces on storm drain covers go back at least 40 years. I have no idea why, except that the shape of the covers (a round cover with triangular hinges) vaguely suggests the head of a cat.

    5. The Rainbow Division is better known as the 42nd Infantry Division, but I'll accept their nickname.

    Okay, Thud! Send me your mailing address, and the zine will be winging your way sometime after it's published on May 1.