Monday, September 01, 2014

R.I.P. Stan Goldberg

“The first solo book I ever drew was Kathy the Teenage Tornado. It was another take-off on all the other teenage titles at the time. You could say it was an Archie take-off but there were a dozen other titles coming out from other publishers, some of which I even worked on eventually like Swing With Scooter, Leave It To Binky and Debbi’s Dates at DC. At Marvel I did Patsy Walker, My Girl Pearl, Chili and all these others but in the end it was Archie that survived.”

When I interviewed him a few years back, I called at the arranged time and he asked me to hold on. Said he was talking to Stan Lee for the first time in ages (this was when Lee was preparing to do some stories for Archie) and he had to tell him he'd call him back later. SUCH a weird feeling that I was interrupting Stan Lee and Stan G, together again after all those years! Perhaps because of that conversation, he spoke more to me about his days at Marvel in our talk than Archie, even though I was calling about the latter!

I wrote a more extensive remembrance with Craig Yoe over at the 13TH DIMENSION blog here.

R.I.P. Stan Goldberg

Friday, August 29, 2014

Big Band Pinups!

Hard to fathom a time when swing band leaders' pictures adorned walls of jitterbugging bobbysoxers but this would seem to indicate that was a thing at one time!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jack Kirby at 97

By all accounts, Jack Kirby was an unassuming man and I can't help but think he'd be flabbergasted by the continually building impact his long ago comic book work continues to inspire in the world's popular culture.

I started collecting comic books--as opposed to casually looking at the pictures before I could read--in 1966 and by the end of that year, I had noticed that Jack Kirby's name was on many of my favorites. The Human Torch! The Thing! Captain America! With back issues cheap and plentiful in those days, I soon found him also on X-Men, Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, Nick Fury, Sgt. Fury, what seemed like a gazillion giant monster stories, and even something called FIGHTING AMERICAN!

When I hit the point that I decided I was too old to continue buying comic books, it was Jack who convinced me of the folly of that type of thinking. He did it with the Forever People, the New Gods and Mister Miracle, followed with a dose of The Demon, Kamandi and Sandman!

Via Steranko's history, I learned he had co-created kid gang comics and romance comics. I learned he had also co-created Fly-Man (as the Fly). But it was FANTASTIC FOUR that stayed with me the most, living to its pretentious subtitle of "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine." Kirby's long run on FF with Stan Lee providing the snappy dialogue still stands out to me as the milestone of comic book milestones. Always the remarkable craftsman, Jack's imagination seemed to grow by leaps and bounds in the Silver Age days of the so-called "Marvel Age of Comics." The FF themselves may have been throwbacks to Plastic Man, Invisible Scarlet O'Neil, Jack's own monster titles and the original Timely Torch, but from there things grew by leaps and bounds! Dr. Doom! Black Bolt and the Inhumans! The Black Panther! The Silver Surfer! The Kree! Galactus! It was as though Jack's consciousness expanded on its own without the need for any of the assisting pharmaceuticals utilized by some other cartoonists of the day.

Today, it is Jack Kirby's creations who still form the background basis of the Marvel Universe, both in print and on the big screen. It is Kirby's "failed" concepts--Darkseid, Apokalips, the New Gods, etc--that form the backdrop to DC's comic book universe.

Oh, and did I mention that along the way Jack Kirby's mother box concept foreshadowed today's pocket computer tech by about four decades? What was a convenient fantasy plot device in Kirby's Fourth World Saga is now an everyday reality of 21st century life.

By all accounts, as I said, Jack Kirby was an unassuming man. He lived long enough to know that thousands of fanboys worshipped him but I'm not sure he understood that. He just liked to draw and being creative was how he made his living. In real life, he wasn't a man of action. He never went out looking to help people in trouble. He just picked up his pencil in the morning and drew. For about 5 decades. It's what he did. But it was more than enough to make Jack Kirby one of my heroes. One of a LOT of people's heroes. He taught me that perseverance is a good thing, that good should always triumph, that imagination and creativity should never have any boundaries!

Jack left us far too soon but in a way he didn't leave us at all. Not a day goes by that I don't encounter him in one way or another. Not a day goes by nowadays when MOST people in the US don't encounter his legacy in one way or another.  

Thanks, Jack. Sorry you won't be here for your 97th birthday today but don't worry. We remember.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Archies-Jingle Jangle-1970

The Archie comics characters represent an idealized teenage characterization that never really seemed to fit me. I didn't "hang out" anywhere, I didn't tinker with cars, I didn't have girls chasing me, I didn't swim, I didn't play in a band, I didn't go to friends' houses and listen to records...well...once I did, early on, at age 11. It was early 1970 when I walked down to my 6th grade girlfriend Debbie's house to share with her a new album I had--The Archies' third album, from late 1969, JINGLE JANGLE.

I had been a fan of the Filmation TV series since it began, in spite of what I now recognize as some shoddy production values and questionable voicework. I knew, of course, that it wasn't the same folks doing the singing on the albums but I had no idea at that time that it was Ron Dante, who had also sung one of my recent favorite songs, TRACY, as "The Cuff Links."

But I still remember that day as Debbie and I sat on her bed playing the LP over and over on her little mono record player--particularly her favorite cut--S.K.O.O.B.Y.  D.O.O., and she'd dance around the room, even succeeding in getting ME to join her for a twirl once or twice! Her mother kept coming in to tell us to turn it down and also to get OFF the bed! Ahem! In reality, that was never once a consideration. We didn't even know about that stuff yet! We were having way too much fun being--perhaps for the only time in our lives...or at least mine--typical American teenagers...just like The Archies!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kirby Tribute

I clipped this Kirby tribute from TBG about 35 years ago but I don't recall the context or even who it's by. Some of the interior art appears to be by Kirby himself but is that a set of stylized initials in the tape residue at right. If so, whose? I have an idea but...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Who Doctor

It's about TIME. Peter Capaldi's version of the venerable BBC Doctor finally premieres today and it will be interesting to see what the world makes of him. I was one of those who couldn't resist the leaked episodes, although I looked at them more as an extended tease. Can't wait to catch the real things! He quickly makes the role his own but he is a very different man than we've all gotten used to over the previous 7 series. No spoilers here, though, except to say that I enjoyed episodes 3 and 4 the best! Can't wait to catch them the way they were meant to be seen! Welcome, Doctor!