Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Tiger Beat Record Club


TIGER BEAT, in 1970, was an arbiter of all things groovy. If TIGER BEAT (or its rival 16 MAGAZINE) pronounced something hip well then, man, it was HIP with a capital IP! Here we have an ad for the Tiger Beat Record Club. Unlike those record club ads in comic books that maddeningly mixed Andy Williams and Glen Campbell with Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, if the TB Record Club had it, it was guaranteed groovy (no pun intended).

Of course, their idea of a record club was a little more along the lines of just--send us the money and we'll send you these record albums. There really was no "club." Well, to be fair, you DID get a free 45 (for you youngsters, that was a smaller, 2 song record with a bigger hole in the middle) for each order. And you could apparently choose your OWN! WOW! How much you want to bet they got hundreds of requests for songs that never existed as singles?

Oh, and their choices? As I say, things didn't get any groovier than these!

BOBBY SHERMAN--This was the first LP I ever owned, purchased right after I got my very first "grown-up"record player. I enjoyed Bobby's pleasant but unspectacular singing and he had a lot of catchy songs. In fact I bought all his albums until his career petered out more completely than just about anyone's. Sold 'em for a tidy profit a few years ago,too! I am surprised that they say that many stores won't even be carrying Bobby's album as it was briefly quite huge!

THE MONKEES GREATEST HITS--As with the last one, I bought this early on at Twin Fair in Covington, KY, about three blocks from where I'm sitting right now. I had enjoyed the Monkees since they had first appeared on TV in 1966 but had never had any of their music for my own. I loved this album (in spite of ZOR & ZAM) and played it quite literally to death.

DAVID JONES--This was heavily touted in the teen mags but it was actually a reissued (or more likely remaindered) LP from the pre Monkees days. I never had it but I seem to recall it consisted of the type of Broadway showtunes with which Davy was associated when he first came to the US. Monkees fans were not amused.

THE MONKEES PRESENT--Nobody ever seemed to be clear on the actual title of this album. Was it THE MONKEES PRESENT, as in a gift to you of Monkees...or was it THE MONKEES PRESENT as in "Here we are now?" Perhaps, since their individual names (sans the already departed Peter) are on the cover, it was actually supposed to be THE MONKEES PRESENT MICKEY, DAVID (&) MICHAEL! Maybe. Who knows? All I know is that what TB calls "The Monkees' best album yet" was made of castoffs and a few new numbers recorded completely solo by the remaining three, few of which were memorable. Only the next album (with only two Monkees left) would make it look good.

DARK SHADOWS--Yes, DARK SHADOWS was hip! Astonishingly hip! This horror soap TV soundtrack (with poetry and Shakespeare!) featured cast members Jonathan Frid and David Selby and turned out to be fairly hard to find but I did get a copy eventually! Lots of spooky music from the show but otherwise pretty hokey. DS fans have revived it on CD, though, as well as manufactured multiple sequels!

Finally, the one and only SAJID! Who, I hear you asking? Oh, come on! Sajid Khan! MAYA! Remember? MAYA? With the elephant and Dennis the Menace? Oh, come on! Sajid Khan was briefly a heartthrob after the 1966 movie MAYA became a 1967-68 TV series of the same name co-starring Jay North. This being 1970, quite frankly they must have had some leftover copies lying around. "Sajid sings all 12 songs!" it says. On his own, self-titled album? Were they admitting what we now know as the "sweetening" of less than talented voices sometimes took place? IMDB has Sajid Khan long since returning to India with only occasional local returns to acting.

Oh, one last thing about the Tiger Beat Record Club--Note that it says all of their packages were "wrapped with care and Love." Note that in 1970, "Love" came with a capital "L." It was just the groovy way to do it, baby.



Monday, August 30, 2010

Here's Something You Don't see Every Day, Chauncey


Here we have a 1950's Archie Comics ad in which the company actually offers to buy back copies of one of their comics. I find myself wondering exactly why they'd need 500 freakin' copies for their library but hey, they were willing to pay the big buck for it...literally. And if you don't think one dollar per copy is a good deal, remember that this is the first Archie Annual we're talking about and Annuals only cost a quarter each back in the day! So you could make back four times your initial investment! Of course it's been going from anywhere between $10.oo and $300.00 on eBay more recently but hey...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Vampirella Letter


Previously we ran my letter written at age 9 and published in ADVENTURE COMICS. Then I found the letter I had in LOIS LANE when I was 12. Now, at the wizened old age of 13, we have my "anonymous" letter to VAMPIRELLA. I had decided I was going to become a famous LoC writer in the way that The Mad Maple and Uncle Elvis Orten would later on! Thus I became...STARBLAZER! Note that it was years before the STARBLAZERS TV series, too. After this I wrote a few more Starblazer letters but none were ever published. As I recall, my last letter--which thankfully went unpublished--was to DC's FREEDOM FIGHTERS in the late seventies complaining about the decline in Jack Abel's inking. I was later embarrassed to hear he had, in fact, had a stroke.

For the record, someone at Warren added the last line in my letter about their then-upcoming reprint of the Spanish DRACULA volumes. I wasn't that interested and, in fact, never got a copy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review--The Thin Black Line



In comics these days, everyone has his fans and everyone has his detractors. Somebody with an absolute TON of each is Vince Colletta, the late inker who was and is arguably the most polarizing artist in the history of comics.

Colletta-bashing has practically become an Internet meme but now comes Robert L. Bryant's new volume, THE THIN BLACK LINE, subtitled "Perspectives On Vince Colletta, Comics' Most Controversial Inker." With the help of such bystanders as Bob McLeod, Mark Evanier and Colletta's own son, we are shown two distinct ways to look at the man's work.

One--He was a true hack, dedicated only to making as much money as he could in comics by inking more and more pages faster than anyone...even if that meant simply erasing or blacking out large portions of the work.

Two--He was one of the most reliable artists in comics--always available for more work and always turning it in on deadline so the material would be on time. If it was running late, they'd call Vinnie.

The truth of the matter, of course, is that he was a little of both. At his best, his subtle line and softening inks made a bad pencil job look good. Equally, when rushed for an approaching deadline, he could cause amazing comics art to become dull and lifeless.

The book also introduces us to the man himself, a larger than life figure who propagated his own legend whilst holding court and building a wonderful, huge home with the profits of his comics work. As with his inking, he was revered by some in real life and reviled by others. Fred Hembeck claims nearly to have lost his very LIFE due to Colletta's negative reaction to his portfolio! To some like Rich Buckler, he was a mentor. To others like Gil Kane, he was a metaphorical destroyer of art by more talented artists.

THE THIN BLACK LINE is filled with examples of Colletta's work both good and bad. There's an absolutely amazing panel from Jack Kirby's IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB where the inker so notorious for silhouetting background characters (if not taking them out all together) has lovingly inked more than a score of small figures. Many other examples show an artist who truly adds to the penciler's work. By contrast, all the usual suspects as far as Colletta panels are also collected here.

There's debate, too, Colletta's long-running collaboration with Kirby on THOR at Marvel and Jack's 4th World titles at DC. Me. I have always fallen into the category of liking--no LOVING-- that combination of artist/inker on those titles. To me, Vince brought Kirby a much needed softening effect, especially by the time they were at DC. By contrast, Kirby's hand-picked inker, Mike Royer, although a fine artist in his own right, so slavishly covered Jack's stylized pencil art that everything and everybody looked to me like they were made out of metal.

THE THIN BLACK LINE is, itself, rather a thin book but it's nicely illustrated, informative and for the old time comics fan a fun if frustrating read. It probably won't change anybody's mind about Vince Colletta but at least it gives you enough info to make up your own mind. As I said, it isn't really the cut and dried situation it seems...but it certainly makes for an interesting read.

Special thanks to Twomorrows for providing me with a review copy. You can get yours now from Amazon.





Thursday, August 26, 2010

Leslie Hunter is Taking Commissions



If you've heard of Leslie Hunter at all it's probably from when I purchased some original art from her last Winter. If you have NOT heard of her it is your loss. I think she's quite impressive. She's never done a comic book (well, she has and it's a good one but it has yet to be published), she doesn't do cons and you won't find her works in a Heritage Auction. In fact, she is strictly a talented amateur but hey, that's how they described Mrs. Peel in THE AVENGERS and she's remembered quite well today!

Take a look at some of her works in various media. She has a natural design instinct, an obvious manga bent, a talent for utilizing color in unusual ways and a wonderful flair for the dramatic.























Leslie is now willing to take commissions for black and white or color pencil sketches at low, negotiable rates. I predict one day many people WILL have heard of her and having some originals in your collection will be a good thing. Leslie Hunter can be contacted directly at

eilseleiramretnuh@yahoo.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Comicscope Ads-1940

What grabbed me more than anything else about these Fox SCIENCE COMICS ads from 1940 was the bit on the bottom center of the lower ad that says, "Just like the talkies!" and goes pn to state, "...all have words which are projected and readable on your screen..." Ummm....I know I'm not THAT old but somebody correct me if I'm wrong here; wouldn't THAT make them EXACTLY like silent films instead of "just like the talkies!"????

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 76

So many things to say here, all of them very awkward and squicky. Yes, that's Betty and Veronica, perpetually aged 16 and a half, in their scanties and discussing Mr. Wetherbee's... voyeurism (??). From a real ARCHIE comic book! But why are they silhouetted when their AHEM...attire isn't? Are the clothes glow-in-the-dark or are they really wearing blackface...and everything else? I am NOT even going to mention Betty's rather obvious err...AHEM...I blush. It's only one panel out of context but if you really look at it, it is SO WRONG!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

RIP-Ahna Capri


Although not yet widely reported, my former Christa collaborator John O'Dowd informs of the passing last week of ENTER THE DRAGON actress Ahna Capri in a car accident. John's source was a long-time friend of the actress's. The Mego Museum website seems to confirm this information.

Screenwriter Alan Trustman-Press Release

Yesterday, I wrote about THE NEXT MAN and followed up on whatever happened to some of those involved with it. Sad to say I neglected the original writer, Mister Alan Trustman, best known for BULLITT and THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. Trustman is in the news today, however, as a result of the 40th anniversary of another of his screenplays, THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS! Here's a press release just received from the author's representative! Seems he's been a busy guy indeed! Thanks Saverio!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SCREENWRITER ALAN TRUSTMAN RECALLS WRITING "THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS!" ON THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FILM'S RELEASE

August 23, 2010 - Veteran Hollywood screenwriter Alan Trustman recalls being asked to write the sequel to "In the Heat of the Night" without Rod Steiger reprising his Oscar-winning role of Police Chief Bill Gillespie. "It was a challenge," says Trustman. "I wrote an original rather than a sequel and focused on Sidney Poitier's role and his relationship with the children. Sidney loved it so it worked." "They Call Me Mister Tibbs" was released by United Artists on July 10, 1970 and remains one of the most influential films of that decade.

Following Trustman's success with "The Thomas Crown Affair" and "Bullitt" he was the most sought after screenwriter in Hollywood but even he was surprised to be asked to write a followup to "In the Heat of the Night" not having been involved with the original film. "Walter Mirisch, the producer, hand picked me so who was I to say no?"

"They Call me Mister Tibbs" was released on July 10, 1970 with Sidney Poitier reprising his role of police detective Virgil Tibbs. He was joined by Martin Landau, Barbara McNair and Edward Asner.

Film historians today recognize that the influence of this film is that it is an early example of the blaxploitation genre and that it ushered in the urban police story which would dominate film and television programs in the '70s and continue through today, predating "Shaft", "The French Connection" and "Dirty Harry" films.

ABOUT ALAN TRUSTMANALAN TRUSTMAN
Alan Trustman is a Hollywood veteran screenwriter whose credits include "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1968), "Bullitt" (1968) and "They Call Me Mister Tibbs" (1970). He was awarded the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe award for best screenplay for "Bullitt". Trustman is credited with writing several other screenplays as well as the recently published novelized screenplays of "Twenty-Two Lovers" and "The Judas Prophecy". In these new works, Trustman takes the traditional screenplay format and writes a page-turner novel format capturing the intensity of the action with the dialogue.

Trustman was born in Boston on December 16, 1930. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy (class of '48), Harvard College (class of '52) and Harvard Law School (class of '55). He began practicing law in 1955 with Nutter, McClennen & Fish in Boston, becoming a Senior Partner in 1961. He retired from the law firm in 1969 and pursued other private sector interests.

Trustman has contributed to numerous television scripts and film projects and is a mentor to the new generation of screenwriters with his best-selling "The Screenplay Sell" and his teaching. He has taught screenwriting at Harvard College, NYU Graduate School of Film and Television, Phillips Exeter Academy, Escuela Internationale de Cinema y TV in Havana and most recently at the University of Miami School of Communications where he will return for the Spring 2011 semester.

Trustman is a Member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Mystery Writers of America and International Association of Crime Writers. He also continues to serve as a Panelist for numerous film festivals.

Trustman lives on Fisher Island, Florida with his wife Dr. Barbara Buchwald. For more information please visit www.thejudasprophecy.com and www.twenty-twolovers.com. As well, follow Trustman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ScriptsTrustman.

Media Contact
Saverio Mancina
+1.202.468.7644 mobile
mancina1966@yahoo.com

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks # 61


Has it really been five months since we've done a MOVIES THAT FELL THROUGH THE CRACKS? Wow. Sorry. Next time, tell me!

Anyway, this one is definitely a non-starter. THE NEXT MAN came out in 1976, a year before STAR WARS, when the film industry was still desperately trying to find "the next big thing" amidst diminishing box office receipts. Star Sean Connery had finally had success besting his 007 typecasting and was now doing A-List films such as THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING and ROBIN AND MARIAN with nary a mention of Bond in the reviews anymore. Then , for some reason, he chose to do THE NEXT MAN. This was a decidedly B-list spy film (the type of thing you'd think Connery would avoid) c0-written and directed by Richard Sarafian, best known for years of TV westerns. Another co-writer, the award-winning Morton S. Fine, was associated with TV spy dramas including I SPY! The whole thing was based on a story by Alan Trustman who had written Steve McQueen's BULLITT and THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. Producer Martin Bregman is associated with hit Al Pacino pictures including SERPICO, DOG DAY AFTERNOON and later SCARFACE.

Sounds pretty good so far. But what's it about? THE NEXT MAN--Not the most descriptive title in the history of films. Well let's look at the ad, shall we? Ooooookay. That tells us...what? Another tag line used in the film's marketing was, "In the world of spying and dying, love is the ultimate weapon." Doesn't help much either.

If I may quote IMDB's summary as written by one John Barnes, "Khalil is an Arab diplomat who wants to not only make peace with Israel, but admit the Jewish state as a member of OPEC. This instantly makes him a target for a series of ingeniously conceived assassination attempts, most of which he foils with the aid of his friend Hamid and his girlfriend Nicole. But can he trust even them?"

Ah, I see now. OPEC and the Middle Eastern Crisis were in the news daily in those days. This was supposed to cash in on the interest and fears the public had. Gotcha. And the great Scotsman Connery as an Arab....sure...right. he's an actor. He can do it. AHEM.

Supporting cast included a huge bunch of folks I guarantee you've never heard of as well as character actors Charles Cioffi, Albert Paulsen (who I always thought was Pat's brother) and, of all people, Adolfo Celi. Celi, was, of course, the villainous Emilio Largo in the James Bond classic THUNDERBALL a decade earlier. Remember, Connery was absolutely adamant during this period that he wanted to get away from his association with the 007 films! What were they thinking? Not only that but according to IMDB, Celi, like GOLDFINGER's Gert Frobe, had such a thick accent and bad command of English that you had to hire a different actor to dub him in most of his English language pictures!

Then there was Cornelia Sharpe. Trotted out in the press as the flavor of the month, this former fashion model had only done a few small roles prior to her co-starring billing here as a seductive assassin. She is pretty but dull and the simplest lines were not easy for her to get through. The hype played up her steamy onscreen romance with Connery but it was weirdly Connery steaming by himself for the most part. After this, Ms. Sharpe, as with many fashion models who attempt to act, faded after failing to carry the starring roles in a few TV movies. Her minor attempt at a comeback in the 21st Century involved choosing a role in Eddie Murphy's barely released ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH!

All in all, THE NEXT MAN, for all of its "torn from the headlines" background, wasn't so much a bad movie as simply a dull and ultimately pointless one. Director Sarafian, who gave himself a cameo here, more or less gave up directing to become an actor. Sean Connery, in spite of one last return to Bondage in the next decade, became recognized as a cinematic treasure in spite of films like...THE NEXT MAN.




Saturday, August 21, 2010

DC Comics Firsts in Plop!



The ever-vigilant Lisa M pointed me toward this particular issue of PLOP from 1974. While it may not look historically significant, It contains two items that may well be marking their very first appearances in a code-approved comic book!

Item # 1 is the Aragones-drawn bird seen here "giving the bird!"

Item # 2 is the use, in the letter partially seen here, of the term "orgasmic!"

They may seem like little things to you but if you know anything about the Comics Code Authority, you know how unlikely these two items really were!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Alan Kupperberg Commissions


As I've stated here before, I was never much on collecting original comic book art. Had I ever had the money, that might have been different. If , however, you like that sort of thing, friend of this blog Alan Kupperberg is taking commissions!

The prolific artist started out working with Wallace Wood and Neal Adams in the early 1970's went on to draw, amongst others, SPIDER-MAN, THE AVENGERS, HOWARD THE DUCK, THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, ANNIE and the infamous (but popular!) OBNOXIO THE CLOWN VS. THE X-MEN! Along the way he was a notable contributor to NATIONAL LAMPOON and many other magazines and comics.

You can find out more about Alan here:


and if you want to commission him you can write him directly here:

kupperberg@earthlink.net

Tell him booksteve sent ya!


Unintentional (??) Celebrity Guest Stars in Marvel Westerns


There are probably plenty more examples but here are a couple submitted by the ever-helpful Lisa M. Both of these panels are from early sixties Marvel westerns. Note comic (and longtime Bob Hope sidekick) Jerry Colonna, complete with his trademark eyes and mustache at far left, standing beside Gary Cooper! Not sure who the guy in the background of that first panel might be, if anybody, but the guy in the right hand panel certainly gives every impression of being Dobie Gillis's good buddy, Maynard G. Krebs (as played by a bearded Bob Denver), then popular on TV.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Captain Marvel, Jr. by Don Rosa


Here we have, direct from the heady fanzine days of the early seventies, a one-page strip entitled ALTER-EGO ERROR by future Good Duck Artist Don Rosa which addresses an issue many of us have wondered about over the years. (For those of you out of the loop, Junior turns back into plain ol' Freddy Freeman whenever he says the name of his hero...or, for that matter, himself.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rubber Biscuit-Dan Aykroyd as Elwood Blues



Technically a Blues Brothers video although Joliet Jake (John Belushi) is nowhere to be seen. When the original Blues Brothers album was released, this song actually got some radio airplay. I was always impressed by Dan's handling of it even though it's as pure a piece of pointless nonsense as has ever been recorded. Dan Aykroyd was, in fact, the blues expert of the pair. Belushi ended up the front man but was reportedly not into it at all at first.

Patty Duke Interview



It's about an hour long but one of the best celebrity interviews I've seen in ages and what a strong woman! Thanks to Paul Peterson for pointing this one out! If it's too wide here (and I believe it will be, go to YouTube and watch it.

The Fresh Lobster-1935



Lisa M comes through again, pointing me to this marvelous stop motion/animated/trick shot short from 1935 starring voice actor Billy Bletcher (perhaps best remembered as the voice of Disney's Big Bad Wolf).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury-NSFW





Here's as good an argument for literacy as I've ever seen, albeit told from an entirely unusual viewpoint! Ray Bradbury has been one of my favorite authors since Junior High and he turns 90 next week! Writer/actress/comic Rachel Bloom is also a fan and made this unique tribute that Ray himself would probably hate! It's bouncy, catchy, hot and dirty all at once whilst never losing sight of the underlying thrill of reading! Friend and muse Brittany Rose said:

"I can't decide if I think he would hate this or jerk off to it."

Note also how Rachel resembles Brittany Rose in the final shot!

The Planet of Frank Saladino



Okay all of you sleuths and experts out there, it's time for another mystery. My friend Ed has a page of original art that he has had for some time. It was identified as being a try-out page for PLANET COMICS by one Frank Saladino. It's pretty good art and certainly looks as though it could have come directly from PLANET with their trademark spaceships, aliens and scantily-clad women. The only problem is neither Ed nor I can find any trace of Frank in comics history? Gaspar's brother perhaps? Is it possible he did this tryout, failed to get work and left the industry behind him? There was, in fact, a Frank "Goomba" Saladino in the Chicago Mob. Could it be...? Surely someone out there knows and will share the answers with Ed and I and the rest of the class.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Superdroop!


While we're discussing Archie, everyone knows (well, everyone who would care I guess) that Jughead's secret superhero identity since the mid-sixties has been CAPTAIN HERO (see below)! How many of you remember that a few years prior to that, complete with nearly the same logo, Jug was also SUPERDROOP (see above)!

Archie Book Ad


Here's an ad for the ARCHIE collection that came out back in 1981. I bought a used copy a couple of decades later and was surprised to find it autographed by my friend Bob Hastings who had played Archie on radio. What I find most interesting about this ad, however, is that it was co-edited and compiled by Michael Uslan. Mister Uslan was one of the first to offer classes on comics history and he has gone on to produce various superhero films including the BATMAN franchise starting with Michael Keaton. More recently, though, he's back at Archie where he wrote the recent wedding stories and is now, according to reports, getting ready to introduce the concept of death into the Archieverse!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hoppy's Castle


Castle Films are pure nostalgia for so many people of my age but not for me. We never had a movie projector of any kind other than my Kenner Give-A-Show projector in the mid-sixties. Basically, Castle Films marketed home movies on 8MM or 16MM. Sometimes they were shorts or cartoons but often they were abridged versions of feature films, sometimes going back decades! Here from 1950 we have the premiere appearance of old Hopalong Cassidy films for home use, just in time to cash in on Hoppy's newfound popularity on television!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tenderfoot Sal

From the first issue of ALL-STAR WESTERN, here's a little one-pager that escapes notice in GCD. Brought to my attention by the ever-helpful Lisa M, I believe it may be the work of the late Howie Post. Lisa, by the way, suggests that the cowboy saying "Ray" in the final panel is later WONDER WOMAN villain Egg Fu. I myself tend to believe it's the teenage Sergio Aragones, his mustache not yet at its full bloom.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bucky Lives!


I was shocked and appalled when they decided to bring back Captain America's WWII era partner, Bucky...again...only this time for real! So much of Cap's self was tied up in the fact that he assumed the blame for Bucky's death. Survivor's guilt if you will. All those years of angst, nightmares, false hope, fake Buckys and even trying to "replace" Bucky with Rick Jones made Captain America the man he is. And then they go and bring Bucky back! And guess what? They do it well! Not sure whose idea it was initially but credit for pulling it off seems to lie fully with writer Ed Brubaker. If you haven't been reading Cap comics in recent years (and many may have quit when they "killed off" Cap) let me say I find them to be THE best mainstream comics currently being published. If you haven't been reading them you may not realize that Bucky is, in fact, now Captain America himself! And again, it works! Thank you, Mister Brubaker!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Donations Anyone?

Still trying to keep our heads above water but with the recent flooding here that hasn't been easy. The recent unemployment benefits extension caught us up on most bills with the retro checks but for reasons I don't understand, I am apparently NOT eligible for any continuing checks even though I'm nowhere near being one of the "99'ers." Thus the savings are now depleted and we still have no working heating or AC since the flood!

On the positive side, I am starting a new part-time job that has great potential for excitement, fun and new experiences...but not all that much money, at least at first. Thus once again, I have to ask that if you enjoy this blog, FOUR COLOR SHADOWS, SHADES OF GRAY, YOU'RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST PICTURE, HOORAY FOR WALLY WOOD, GOING FOR BROKE or BRITTANY ROSE AND ME, you please consider a small donation to help maintain us and thus these sites! Thanks to all who have already donated!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Review: Ashes To Angels by Natalie McCollum


When is the last time you got in on the ground floor of something really special and amazing? That’s just the way I felt when reading a new book entitled ASHES TO ANGELS these past few days.


This just published book, the first for author Natalie McCollum, is derivative but purposefully so. Its characters think in song lyrics and poems and quotes and pop references as we wind our way through the tale of an angel who cuts off her wings and falls for a self-destructive poet. Well, that’s it on the surface anyway. Even that is an interesting story but there are so many levels to it!


With its almost stream of consciousness narrative and heavily footnoted pages, the book brings to mind works as disparate as Joyce’s FINNEGAN’SWAKE or Mark Danielewski’s HOUSE OF LEAVES. More than anything else, though, ASHES TO ANGELS reminds me of the slightly disturbing yet welcoming vibe one gets from Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN. And I dearly love Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN.


Ms. McCollum's writing style has a poetry over and above the generous amount of actual poetry in the story itself as part of the plot. The subjects veer into deep dark corners and complicated philosophies, much of which are dealt with in the characters’ heads rather than in dialogue. By the middle of the book you find yourself asking if anything is what it seems…not just in the book but in real life!


Aptly described by its publisher, Punkin House Press, as “a love story told as a horror story and a horror story told as a love story,” ASHES TO ANGELS is the type of book you go into expecting a throwaway horror story and come out of with so much more.


Get in on the ground floor with Natalie McCollum. I have a feeling we’re all going to be hearing a LOT from her! You can order an Ebook at the link below or you can link from there to a hard copy order page.


http://shop.punkinbooks.com/Ashes-to-Angels-Ebook-978-0-9827356-4-0.htm


If you order it, let me know what you think in the comments after you've read it!


(By way of disclosure, I should point out that I heard about this book because I'm going to be doing some work with the publisher but I did NOT have anything to do with the writing of ASHES TO ANGELS.)

Straight From Hollywood





Here are a few pages of then-current Hollywood trivia and meaningless gossip from 1936 and '37 issues of NEW ADVENTURE COMICS, the title that started as NEW COMICS and would end up in a long run for National/DC as ADVENTURE COMICS! Signed by "Laidlaw," these are clearly done in the tradition of the RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT newspaper feature which makes me wonder if this may have been a syndicated feature also. Most likely, though, it was just trying to look like one. In this pre-Superman period , most comic books were either actual strip reprints or cheap, homemade imitations that the publishers didn't have to pay as much for and thus could elicit more profit!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Art of Neal Adams



Neal Adams was and is one of the true deities of comic book artists. Handsome, controversial and amazingly influential since the mid-sixties, he is currently enjoying a new wave of success with a 12 part Batman series for DC nearly fifty years past his debut! Although I have not been thrilled with the new work, there was a time when he could do no wrong in my eyes. That time was exactly when these four volumes came out--the late 1970's. The two wonderful treasuries are from Greg Theakston who is now one of my Facebook pals! Filled with rare pencils and finished art from comics and strips and advertising, every single page of each of these volumes was an absolute visual treat.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Middle-Aged at 26!!??


Here’s an ad from the 1950’s that claims that “you are middle-aged at 26!” At least according to “many well known health authorities.” By that accounting, looks like I am outa here come January! But let’s take a look at exactly which well-known health authorities we are talking about here.

Bernarr MacFadden—whose “stage” name is here misspelled under its original form—was a controversial fitness guru and magazine publisher from the late nineteenth century who was already in his eighties by the time this ad ran!

Jack Dempsey was a former championship boxer already in his late fifties and destined to live nearly three more decades before apparently dying, according to Wikipedia, of an amphetamine overdose.

Joe Bonomo was the guy whose products this ad was pushing in the first place. Hardly the most reliable “expert.” He had been an actor and stunt man before following in the footsteps of his friend Charles Atlas in pushing body-building and health in mail order books and courses. He lived into his seventies.

Finally, this one should be the giveaway not to put too much stock in this ad. The last “expert” is…”Well known Professor!” Seriously. That’s it. There’s a picture. Or rather what looks to be an illustration of a man in glasses (naturally. He’s a professor. Get it?)

So maybe they were wrong. Maybe I’ll still be here come February. Check back and see.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Plastic Gas


Too strange even for a random panel of comic book weirdness, here's a shot of the JLA shared with me once again by Ms. Lisa M. Note that our heroes are in the midst of rushing to tackle whatever menace was set to destroy the earth/solar system/galaxy/universe that issue. Such resolve! Such determination! You just KNOW they can do it. But....em...what's the deal with Plastic Man? What...exactly...is propelling him forward? I mean, sure, Plas can take the SHAPE of a little rocket but that doesn't mean he actually becomes a little rocket, y'know?! He has no fuel! Nothing to propel him forward except possibly...Surely that's not...I mean....Ew!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Films of Ronald Reagan


It's long past time for yet another book off the shelf here at the Library. This is one I picked up at a Library Used Book Sale some years back for 5o cents. That just goes to show the unimportance time has allotted to Ronald Reagan's film career.

When I was a kid, Ronald Reagan was still doing 20 Mule Team Borax commercials. As I grew older he became a punchline as the right wing actor who thought he could succeed in politics in a left wing world! Then, later on, people stopped laughing when Mr. Reagan emerged handily as the 40th President of the United States of America. Love him or hate him for his politics, one has to admit that he sure could look presidential when he wanted to do so!

The problem with all of the above is that Ronald Reagan's long career as an actor gets pushed into the background. Understandable, I suppose but you know what? He really wasn't that bad! An affable presence in scores of films both in character parts and leading roles, Reagan's career is hampered by the fact that the outlandish distractions of BEDTIME FOR BONZO and THAT HAGEN GIRL somehow trump the superior performances of KINGS ROW and KNUTE ROCKNE, ALL-AMERICAN.

All of that and the rest of Mr. Reagan's acting career are dutifully chronicled here by Tony Thomas, not the most probing writer but always good for a solid, straight-forward career retrospective. As usual in the pre-IMDB world, the Citadel Press books were indispensable for the film buff...or in this case also the political buff looking for background on a man who became one of the most controversial presidents of his century!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Outlaws-Girl From Ohio



I always loved the early seventies guitar anthem Green Grass and High Tides Forever from the Outlaws but don't recall ever hearing anything else by them. They were good! Sort of Pure Prairie League mixed with the Eagles with a side of Poco.

Cagney Gets the AFI Life Achievement Award



Here's the great James Cagney, more than a decade past his early sixties retirement, receiving the 2nd AFI Life Achievement Award. Grace, style, class and genuine humor--things you don't see much in Hollywood anymore.

Cutey Honey Live



Here's a bouncy live performance of the J-Pop theme from Go Nagai's CUTEY HONEY!

Marine Boy



MARINE BOY was an early favorite cartoon and, unbeknownst to me at the time, an early anime import here in the US. Years later I would get a chance to speak with Corrine Orr who did the lead character's voice. I have a very surreal life sometimes.

Firesign Theater-Nick Danger



I've been on a FIRESIGN THEATRE kick lately, especially since friending and speaking with Phil Proctor on Facebook the other day.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Super Plastic Man



Most old-time comics fans know the story of IW/Super Comics. A man named Israel Waldman bought the printing plates to a whole big bunch of 1940's and 1950's comic books at some point late in the latter decade. For some reason, in those less enlightened times, this gave this otherwise intelligent man the impression that he somehow had the rights to publish these comic books! He had new covers made up (usually by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito although the first one here is by Jack Abel) and made up titles and numbering. Then he set about selling "his" non-dated comics in non-traditional markets, often three in a bag.

Most of the comics were not all that interesting, really, even the first time. Some exceptions were two issues of THE SPIRIT and two issues of PLASTIC MAN that came out just a few years after the original Quality run's end in 1956 and not long before DC revived the character in their DIAL H FOR HERO series in 1966. In fact, one story I've heard indicates that the reason DC chose that point to revive Plas, a character they had bought from Quality, was to reaffirm their existing trademark to the character.

Waldman either ran out of plates or just gave up the IW/Super line soon afterwards. He would resurface about a decade later when he and Marvel vet Sol Brodsky set up a brand new comics company called Skywald. BrodSKY/WALDman. Get it? This time all of their stuff was brand new at least.