Sunday, February 27, 2011

Silver Age Sub-Mariner Splash Page Sundays # 2

Okay for our second week of SASMSPS we get another mostly naked man but this time it's Namor himself and he ain't happy. Overly muscled in that comic-booky way but not TOO overly-so as would be the case in more recent years, our still oval-headed hero is destroying plot leftovers from the previous issue so he can get along with the current one which, as we can tell, will involve the aquatic Inhuman, Triton. That Subby is particularly angry here is emphasized by the deep red background and the crackling energy. This week's page is again brought to us courtesy of Big John Buscema and classic inker Frank Giacoia, with imperial dialogue from Roy Thomas (nominated for an Eisner Hall of Fame Award this year).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Uncensored 007 Article-1963

1963 article on Ian Fleming and James Bond when only two of the films were out and the novels were still being written. From UNCENSORED Magazine. Click to make readable.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rare Cowboy Actor Interviews!


The most popular films from our BOOKSTEVE'S RARITIES shared site are by far the B-westerns. We have the best selection anywhere. What you may not know is that we also offer this series of DVD's featuring Convention and Festival interviews with some of the great western character actors including Will Hutchins,(above, then and now) Sheb Wooley, James Best, John Agar, George Montgomery, Kirk Alyn, Tommy Kirk and Bantam Street regular HM Wynant!

COWBOY INTERVIEWS

These DVDs contain a minimum of two hours of interviews with actors who appeared in the good ol’ days of movies including westerns. If you love the B-westerns than hearing the behind-the-scenes stories from this crew is worth the price of admission! Some of the DVDs are three hours long but a minimum of two hours is contained on each disc.

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume One)
R.G. Armstrong, Don Durant, Dale Berry, Jack Holt, Bob Brown and Terry Frost

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume Two)
Joe Brooks, Ann Robinson, Tommy Kirk, James Best and Jane Adams

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume Three)
Elena Verdugo, Dick Jones, Gloria Henry, Ruth Terry. Walter Reed, Gregg Barton and Lyle Talbot

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume Four)
Will Hutchins, Rudy Fehr, Sue Ane Langdon, Alan Barbour, Jim Shoenberger and Bill Whitney

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume Five)
Ron Harper, Dale Berry, Steve Stevens, John Lupton, Randy Boone, Will Hutchins and Wayde Preston

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume Six)
R.G. Armstrong, Anne Rutherford, Brenda Scott, George Montgomery, June Storey, Patsy Montana, and George Wallace

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume Seven)
Lash LaRue, Dale Berry, Gene Evans, Randy Boone and Bob Brown

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume Eight)
Lori Nelson, Sheb Wooley, Terry Moore, Jan Merlin, John Mitchum, Peter Boone, Sue Gossett, James Best and Billie Murphy

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume Nine)
Will Jordan, James Best, Linda Stirling, Helen Talbot, Penny Edwards, and Peggy Stewart

COWBOY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS (Volume Ten)
Will Hutchins, John Agar, Kirk Alyn, Peter Breck, Jerome Courtland and H.W. Wynant



You can order 'em for 7 bucks each and a flat 6 bucks postage.

A portion of each sale goes to support our sites.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: My '70s Book by Darryll Sherman


Memory is a weird and wonderful gift...but a treacherous one. I recently became reacquainted with a friend from my teenage years. We sat around remembering the good old days...only his memories didn't always jibe with mine. I was so SURE of mine, however. He, too, was so sure of his.

Darryll Sherman has a lot of memories of that same era, many of which I actually had forgotten until his book. Some of his are different than mine and at least one is a bit off. MY '70'S BOOK is a short, fun read, though, for anyone who lived through the late sixties and the seventies--a reminder of what we sacrificed and lost, either willingly or unwillingly, to get our home theaters and IPhones.

Some of the topics didn't personally apply to me but nonetheless triggered memories of long-forgotten friends and neighbors. I didn't bike, for example. Never had one and to this day have never ridden a bicycle. I do recall neighborhood kids who were really into it with baseball cards flapping in their tires. We never took long car trips. We never got the Sears Wish Book, I never had Legos...but it's fun and a little sad to see what I missed out on.

My favorite part of Darryll's book (and I call him by his first name because his warm writing style easily makes one feel an old friend) is about the way we played. My son, now fourteen, has only once ever spent the night at a friend's home, has never been out after dark alone and has rarely had friends over. He has spent little of his life outdoors.

By contrast, even being the bookish child that I was, I lived to be outside. When I was about ten, I would burst through that screen door and not be seen again 'til well after dark on most nights! I had some friends whose faces I never saw in the daytime! I wouldn't have recognized them. We would run through the alleys and play down on the riverfront and never thought twice about it. Nor did our parents. Ah, memories.

As you might expect, there's a good deal of memory-jogging mentions of music, movie and TV heroes of the period. Also lots of toys, TV commercials, cars and even some old-fashioned home cooking! And Jarts! We had Jarts! We loved Jarts and we all survived! (Still have 'em somewhere.)

Toward the back there's a delightful "When I was your age..." section you can share with your own young whippersnappers. This is where we find the one glaring error that Darryll's memory makes! He makes reference to "The Oscar Meyer Wiener Song" as having the lyrics, "Fat kids, skinny kids, kid who climb on rocks. Tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox..." Darryll...finish that last line. "...Even kids with chicken pox love hot dogs. ARMOUR HOT DOGS! The dogs kids love to bite!" Armour, not Oscar Meyer! By the way, that song was revived many years later with updated lyrics, replacing "fat kids, skinny kids" with "big kids, little kids."

This is the kind of book you share with your spouse or your old friends or, as I said before, your own kids. Force them to...I mean, let them see how it was when we were growing up. I have what's been called a spooky memory. I remember more than most people do from the old days. MY '70'S BOOK managed to pull off the impressive feat of reminding me of literally dozens of things that even I had forgotten. How many do YOU remember? Order your copy below and find out for yourself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Great Moments in Thor History # 1




With Marvel's THOR movie quickly approaching, I thought it perhaps appropriate to highlight some exceptional moments of this ofttimes majestic character from the classic comics. Here's Jack Kirby and Chic Stone form the early sixties.

Updatestuff 2011


It's February, 2011. I've been having a tough time recovering from a cold I caught in early January and the lingering cough and drainage has been keeping me up nights. When I do sleep during the day I'm having to sleep sitting up in a chair. I often awake with my feet and ankles swollen.

I have a laundry list of other (hopefully) minor health issues and today I actually cut my head whilst combing what is left of my hair. Ouch!

I remain technically out of work at least as far as a weekly paycheck. I am doing some freelance writing and research work but that has slowed down drastically in the new year. (If you're reading this and need any proofreading, transcription, etc, please write for rates).

I was scammed yesterday by a fake job ad that was very cleverly done. They contacted me back to arrange an interview and there were several red flags. A follow-up call to the company directly proved the ad to be a phishing scam.

I have several other sources of income but none particularly steady. Blog donations have fallen off drastically after a spike earlier this year due to the international publicity my Geek's Journal blog received.

I try to maintain my blogs and my column at ITCH but I'm falling behind on promised reviews and updates due to sleeping many a day away to make up for not doing so overnight.

BRITTANY ROSE AND ME will most likely be shutting down this summer as my lovely muse is marrying and moving away. She has promised me a couple more extensive photo sessions before then, though, so keep watching for now.

My Christa Helm blog saw a recent major spike in interest due to a rerun of the CBS 48 HOURS MYSTERY episode from 2008 to which I contributed extensively. Ongoing research into her life, career and murder has slowed to a near halt, however (although I did recently hear from two very disparate men, well-known in certain fields, who knew her).

The Wally Wood and Gray Morrow blogs will continue to be updated about 3-4 times a week. Many, many thanks to the various fans of these gentlemen who regularly contribute found-on-the-Net art for them.

My ITCH column has become sporadic apparently due to a recent broadband upgrade making the site non-cooperative on some days. I'm told I need a better router to fix the issue...possibly.

YOU'RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST PICTURE is late updating...as usual. I have three films in the pipeline from Mae West, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. I just never seem to find the concentration to commit to actually watching and writing about them. Apologies.

Obviously the surprisingly successful A GEEK'S JOURNAL 1976 blog will continue as it's already written...35 years ago. Likewise, FOUR-COLOR SHADOWS is simple to update and there are literally thousands of possible stories to use.

If you haven't checked out the BOOKSTEVE RARITIES DVD site, please do so. It is shared site where a percentage of every order goes to this blog. Our B Westerns are particularly popular!

As far as this blog, it certainly isn't going anywhere until and unless we get to the point where we can't pay the bills. I would like to get back to more substantial posts, though, but I guess there's a bit of depression here, also.

If anyone is interested in placing paid ads on this or any of my blogs, please email me. We've had a few and I'm looking for more "corporate sponsors." If anyone wishes to contribute a donation to keep all of these blogs going, the PayPal donations button is at top right.

Overall, I'd like to thank all of you who stop by either here or at any of my other venues on any kind of regular basis. The joy of all this is, of course, sharing with others. Without you, I'd just be talking to myself.

Watch for an article about me in a UK magazine next month and a profile coming up on another blog in April. Details on both as we get closer.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

RIP-Dwayne McDuffie


I never met him but I saw him at a Convention once around the time of the formation of Milestone and he spoke quite impressively. In recent years, his name on animated product with DCU characters has been a definite sign of quality to me. His ALL-STAR SUPERMAN animated film was released just today.

Condolences to Mr. McDuffie's family and his many friends.


Archie Radio Ad-Frizz

Here we have yet another ARCHIE radio ad, this one announcing Kraft as their new sponsor in 1944. The thing that intrigues me most here is Frizz, one of the non-cheese products Kraft was pushing on this series. A 1944 NEW YORK TIMES article on home made ice creams referred to Frizz as, "One called Frizz, put up by the Kraft Cheese Company, is a powder that requires only the addition of water, vigorous beating and freezing, to produce a good, smooth-textured cream."

Was it good? Did it catch on? How long did it last? Is it still around under the radar by any chance? Anybody ever have Frizz?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lenny Henry is Green Lantern

Been awake all night writing and watching THE LENNY HENRY SHOW--the sitcom version from 1987. Thought I'd share this nifty image of Lenny as Green Lantern! Who needs Ryan Reynolds?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Silver Age Sub-Mariner Splash Page Sundays # 1


Here we start a new feature. This one a brief weekly look at Marvel's SUB-MARINER comic of the sixties and seventies, appropriately enough through its "splash" pages. I've always been fascinated by Prince Namor even though I can't swim. I first met him in his TALES TO ASTONISH strip in the mid-sixties, then backtracked to find him as a villain in FANTASTIC FOUR and AVENGERS. Soon enough, I latched onto his Golden Age reprints. In 1968's Marvel expansion, Subby, as he is affectionately called, got his own comic again. It ran 72 issues but was decidedly a second-string book. Doesn't mean it didn't have it's moments, though. Let's just jump in, shall we? It's 1968 and Namor is about to meet...his Destiny!

This first issue splash page shows the at-this-point oval-headed sea king (it varied throughout the run) as only a vague thought in the obviously angry mind of the character Destiny whom in that issue we find has much to do with Namor's past. As drawn by John Buscema and Frank Giacoia here, Destiny would be quite an imposing figure...if he didn't look like a big naked crybaby wearing a pink diaper! And the green! What is with that color scheme, boy? Plus he's clearly in an ice cave! He must be awfully cold unless he comes with the power of "super warmth." Note his funny-looking, oddly shaped helmet, also. It's that helmet, in fact, that will become a major thorn in the side of various Marvel superheroes over the years since as...The Helmet of Destiny!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lost In Space Reunion-2011


I believe that this photo was taken at last weekend's controversial celebrity autograph show. I've seen it in half a dozen places already but I hope the photographer doesn't mind my posting it yet again. It's such a great picture--the surviving cast of LOST IN SPACE reunited some 46 years after that initial episode. And they all look great. L-R, in case you can't tell, that's Bill Mumy, Angela Cartwright, June Lockhart, Marta Kristen and Mark Goddard.

People always act like if you liked LOST IN SPACE you had to hate STAR TREK and vice versa. No true. They're apples and oranges and I love them both and always have. I regret the sublimation of Guy Williams, one of the great action heroes of his generation, when the show veered toward camp comedy, but that's just it. It worked better that way. Jonathan Harris was okay as a villain in the early episodes but his later over-the-top characterization of Zachary Smith became one of THE great TV characters of all time.

One can argue that the rest of the cast became superfluous after Dr. Smith, the Robot and Will Robinson became the show's focus. Try, however, to imagine the series without them. Maybe they got the short end of the stick both as actors and as characters but in the end, as with STAR TREK, they were integral to the show's overall feel and success.

I first met Bill Mumy at a local comic shop in the early eighties. Around that same time, I spoke with June Lockhart on the phone via a radio call-in show. My wife and I met Mark Goddard at a Con in the nineties and I have typed back and forth a couple of times with Ms. Cartwright on Facebook. Never had the undoubted pleasure of meeting Ms. Kristen. Like the STAR TREK folks, however, they are all professional and all personable. At the end of the day, they are also all an integral part of what makes me "me." So nice to see my old friends all together again.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 85

Don't worry...that's actually Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy who has to shave her head and disguise herself as a dude in order to get across a border undetected. None of that superheroing stuff for her, I guess! Zany Haney strikes again in the early seventies.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Case of Batton Lash and MSNBC

A brief soapbox moment if I may.

You may have seen Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC on Tuesday evening as he made a mountain out of the proverbial molehill regarding a political cartoon by Batton Lash (seen in the photo at right) and James Hudnall. O'Donnell spent long minutes earnestly telling his viewers what a vile and evil, RACIST cartoon this was...and then refused to actually show it (or even put it on MSNBC's website) so that people could make up their mind for themselves. It gets worse.

I disagree fundamentally with Mr. Lash on his politics and more than likely with Mr. Hudnall, also. But I know Batton Lash. I interviewed him for the book WELL! a few years back and we have maintained an online friendship ever since. Politics aside, I have found him to be one of the nicest, most creative and most supportive comics industry professionals I have ever met and I have said this over and over to folks. His wife, Jackie, has also been supportive.

I've known Mr. Lash's politics for some time but as I have said before, I come from an age when disagreeing with someone's politics didn't make the other person the Anti-Christ. I don't normally see his OBAMA NATION strip. That said, there is nothing--NOTHING racist in the questionable strip. It isn't particularly amusing and doesn't make much of a valid point though either. It is, at worst, a tacky little fat joke on Michelle Obama. Not only is there no law against that but I'm sure that it would have come and gone virtually unnoticed had Mr. O'Donnell not singled it out in what seemed almost a personal affront.

O'Donnell just went on and on about this two panel throwaway political jab for no obvious reason. He, like Batton, is an intelligent man. I can NOT believe for a second he was nearly as personally offended by this cartoon as he acted! If his early manipulative actions at making the cartoon seem much worse than it is were crossing a line then what he did next certainly crossed several more. Calling out Jackie by name, he urged people to tell her to get Batton to stop doing this strip. He informed viewers as to where the couple live and urged people to approach them if they saw them at Starbucks or elsewhere and express their disgust! He did the same thing for Mr. Hudnall, also drawing his family into it for no fathomable reason.

It all boils down to one thing. Freedom of speech. It's one of the few near absolutes. You're either for it or against it. I spent a lot of years at the bookstores standing up for books and authors and the rights of people to read whatever they want. It is always easy to defend the side you're on. The hard part is to defend the rights of those with whom you fundamentally disagree. In the end, though, they're the ones who prove that it's all worthwhile.

In this case, I found Batton's cartoon with Mr. Hudnall to be incredibly far from his better works as seen in various ARCHIE comics, RADIOACTIVE MAN and, of course, WOLFF AND BYRD. But they had the right to publish it.

I found Mr. O' Donnell's urging of his viewers to confront these creators and their families to be
an irresponsible usage of that same free speech--particularly in today's already ridiculously polarized environment. When "free speech" can possibly lead to harm, that's where that term "near absolute" comes in above.

Free speech is power. As Americans it is arguably our greatest power even in all of the current political turmoil. And as comics fans, if we've ever learned anything it's that "With great power comes great responsibility." Apparently Mr. O'Donnell never read SPIDER-MAN.

For Hudnall and Lash's reactions to the controversy even before MSNBC went there as well as to see the cartoon in question, you can go here:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Creem Does Marvel-1973

Boy Howdy, does this bring back memories. CREEM fans will get that reference. Behind Jazzy Johnny Romita's cover of this 1973 issue of "America's Only Rock 'N' Roll Magazine," there were two articles about Marvel. Presented here is the main one by Mike Baron who would one day write a few pieces for the company himself.





Sunday, February 13, 2011

The 1975 Warren Awards

The Warren awards were in-house awards for the Warren Publishing comics magazines which, at that time, consisted of CREEPY, EERIE and VAMPIRELLA. Let's take a look at these 36 year old awards and see whatever happened to the recipients, shall we?
BEST COVERS: Ken Kelly--According to his website, Kelly has continued to do covers for fantasy novels as well as quite a bit of work for toy manufacturers and record album/CD covers. I don't believe I personally have run across anything new by him since the early eighties but looks like he's doing okay.

BEST ART IN A STORY: Berni(e) Wrightson--Wrightson went on to become associated with the works of Stephen King and has developed a kind of "elder statesman" horror artist status. He is also a popular and frequent convention guest.

BEST ARTIST/WRITER--Fernando Fernandez--A popular Spanish artist working at Warren, he later became associated with European adaptations of the works of Isaac Asimov. Fernandez gave up comics for painting in the early nineties and died in August of 2010.

BEST STORY OF THE YEAR: Jim Stenstrum--Assuming it's the same person, Jim Stenstrum seems to have gone into animation where he is credited with character designs on dozens of cartoon series and specials, many featuring Scooby-Doo.
BEST ALL-AROUND ARTIST: John Severin--With Severin still working in the industry today and his newest works as good as anything he's ever done, one really can;t argue with this award.

SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE: Sanjulian--This classic Warren cover artist went on to do similarly good fantasy covers for many book publishers for years and maintains a solid international popularity through his presence on the Web.

BEST ALL-AROUND WRITER: Bruce Bezaire--Again, assuming it to be the same person, he seems to have gone on to do Christian-oriented comics--both writing and art--and is now considered quite successful as a Christian artist.

SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE: Alex Toth-- Seriously, weren't people just stopping the legendary even in his own lifetime Toth on the streets to offer him awards like this? They should have been.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

RIP Christa Helm-34 Years Ago Today



























34 years ago today, "starlet" Christa Helm died a tragic death when she was brutally stabbed in a crime that today remains unsolved and becomes more intriguing with every new piece of the puzzle that emerges.

When the ID-TV Channel recently reran the CBS 48 HOURS MYSTERY episode on Christa from 2008 for which my wife and I were interviewed, my blog about her life and murder suddenly jumped to a thousand visitors per day during the next few days.

I'm sorry to say I've been lax in my research recently. I'm even sorrier to report that little progress has been made toward bringing her killer(s) to justice.

Above you see a new screen grab I made from Christa Helm's sole starring role as crusading reporter Jackie Broke in the unreleased LET'S GO FOR BROKE. We are currently attempting to get in touch with former DARK SHADOWS werewolf stuntman Alex Stevens who it turns out was the original, uncredited director of that project. If anyone has any info on contacting him. please contact me.

We are also looking for info on any adult films with which Christa may have been involved. She was all around that industry and the LAPD reported to me that they had established that she was in a couple at least but so far nothing has turned up with her actually in it. On IMDB, one person reports that she was in a 1973 picture entitled BLACK GARTERS or BLACK STOCKINGS. He goes into great depth and detail supposedly from his VHS copy and yet this film is not listed in any adult film archives that I have found nor do any collectors I know have any familiarity with it. The original IMDB poster has never returned my emails. If anyone has any info on this or other adult (or even non-adult) films Christa Helm may have been connected with, please contact me.

If you haven't checked out what we DO have on her life, go here and start from the beginning:


Friday, February 11, 2011

Abbey Road Live Cam


http://abbeyroad.com/visit/

This site is addictive! This is the link to a live webcam that runs 24/7 at the legendary Abbey Road crossing in London where the Beatles were photographed for their final recorded album. Sometimes, like tonight, I just put it up in the corner of my computer screen and watch and listen in on a tiny but famous little corner of the world that I'll never see in person.

During the day, it's fun to watch fans and tourists risk being killed by traffic to pose in the crossing for photographers. As I write this, though, it's 3:30 AM in London and raining pretty hard. Not too much traffic this time of night although I just saw a doubledecker bus go by. Do those things run all night? A little while ago, a man came walking by in formalwear with a flower in his lapel getting soaked. On his way home from a late party, perhaps? My mind makes up stories for all of the folks and cars I see through this literal little window on the world. Try it!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 84

Another one to which I was directed by the wonderfully warped mind of the occasionally ephemeral Ms. Mynx, this from a 1955 CODE-APPROVED (!) issue of WESTERN TALES OF THE BLACK RIDER. Art is by John Severin who drew the RAWHIDE KID mini-series a few years back where the character was outed to readers. Just sayin'.

Shame of the Jungle

Found this double page magazine spread on the infamous SHAME OF THE JUNGLE X-rated Tarzan parody in an old issue of CONTINENTAL FILM REVIEW. The film ran into legal issues with the ERB estate and ended up barely seen in the US although it did turn up on early cable. The main points of interest in this trivia question movie are that the English language voices were provided by Bill Murray, John Belushi, Christopher Guest, the great African-American actor Adolph Caesar, THE ELECTRIC COMPANY's Judy Graubert and Johnny Weissmuller, Jr as the jungle king! The American script is credited to SNL writers Anne Beatts and Michael O'Donaghue.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The I Love Comix Project



Our old friend Steve Cottle of the I LOVE COMIX site and archives has latched onto a major opportunity for comics (and even non-comics) historians and he needs our help!

Here's what Steve has to say:


Hello Comic Enthusiasts,

www.ilovecomixarchive.com is trying to purchase an 8,000 lbs collection of vintage newspapers located in West Virginia. There are over 220 consecutive volumes of full newsprint, plus stacks and stacks of comic dailies (mostly full and partial pages) and boxes of Sunday comics pages. The ratio is 90% dailies to Sundays. The newspapers collected are pulled from the following; The Cleveland Daily Press, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Atlanta Georgian, and The Seattle times and many others. The dates collected range from the early 1930's to the late 1970's.

The ilovecomix archive's goal is to scan the material and save it for it's historical value.

All funds received from this project will help pay for the material, transportation fees, and cost to ship all items to our location in Alabama.

Follow the link below for full details on how you can contribute to this worthy archival project and even get some incentives!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Review: The Dangerous Years/The Thousand Dollar Book


When I was a teenager running the streets of Cincinnati(and for many years afterwards), there was a place called King's News. It was literally a dirty little hole in the wall store run by a grumpy old lady from an elevated cashwrap in the center of the store. Inside was dark and dingy and the walls were lined with ancient looking novelty items and cheap city souvenirs that you just knew hadn't sold for decades. Toward the front of the store was a small candy and snack rack as well as a selection of news and general interest mags on one side and a big selection of comics on the other. The biggest in town in fact! Needless to say, that's why I started going there in spite of the otherwise permeable sense of decay. There was, however, a line halfway through the store and no one under the age of 21 was allowed to cross that line! Only once did I risk it and what I saw was a selection of PLAYBOY and similar mags but also a huge wall display of odd looking adult mags and hundreds of old looking paperbacks with sleazy covers...and yet more novelty items, this time with an adult slant. I was not impressed.

I am reminded of King's News today, however, after reading two new books kindly provided to me by author Jim Linderman. Linderman describes a long gone world where every major city seems to have had newsstands just exactly like King's News, most with mob ties.

In the 1970's, the work of artists like John Willie and Eric Stanton (sometimes ghosted or assisted by Steve Ditko) became known to comics fans for their underground bondage books and comics of the 1950's, usually published and distributed by the Mob. It wasn't until many years later, however, that authors like Gerard Jones (in MEN OF TOMORROW) researched and went on the record with the overall mob ties of the early comics and pulps as well as the magazine industry in general. Craig Yoe would take the ties even a step further when he found Superman's original artist Joe Shuster had drawn for the sleazy market in the fifties, also.

In the two books on review here, author Jim Linderman looks at a couple of books in particular. In fact, he scans and reprints the "obscene" literature in toto, with the original illustrations. THE DANGEROUS YEARS--GENE BILBREW, JUSTIN KENT, EDDIE MISHKIN AND THE MOB is the most substantial of the two books, offering a considerable amount of illustrations and background material on those involved.

Bilbrew in particular fascinates. A pioneering African-American commercial artist who is said to have worked briefly in Will Eisner's studio, he developed a heroin addiction that kept his work confined to less than stellar publishers. It is, however, subject matter aside, quite good and reminiscent of the work of Bill Ward who dabbled in both publishing worlds--comics and porn. Based on the art seen below (found on the Net and not associated with either of the books being reviewed) Bilbrew would have been right at home in comics of the day and, with his talent, might even have lasted into the Silver Age.

THE THOUSAND DOLLAR BOOK--SMUT AND THE MILWAUKEE ARREST, 1957 is more of the same with the concentration here being on a bookstore owner who was arrested for merely picking up copies of a book to sell in his store.

Both books also feature court transcripts and the entirety of the interesting court decisions in the accompanying obscenity cases. A highlight of each volume, though, is the original book in contention. The title book of the latter is entitled THE SEX FACTORY
while the former features THE DANGEROUS YEARS. There's also a reprint of a short story called DOUBLE-CROSSED.

That anyone looking at these books today would find them the least bit dirty is almost beyond the imagination. As Linderman himself points out, they could almost pass for Young Adult Fiction and would certainly go virtually unnoticed alongside the regular fare at a modern Barnes and Noble. The pseudonymous authors, while not great, read better than some actual bestsellers I've looked at in recent years. There's a lot of guilt and a lot of talk of cheating but there's little to none of what most customers undoubtedly expected when they plopped down their hard-earned money for the sealed copies in the dimly lit newsstands.

Linderman claims not to be a writer but he is most certainly an excellent researcher and if you're like me, that goes a long way toward making up any shortcomings as an author. For fans and collectors of fifties smut, these books are a must. For comics fans who want the big picture, they are an essential piece of the overall puzzle. For those who just want a concise snapshot of how much America and the world have changed in just over fifty years, take a look at these. Both volumes can be purchased through Jim's nifty website, VINTAGE SLEAZE. You'll also find lots more scholarly reporting on items that I guarantee no one ever would have dreamed would be reported on in a scholarly fashion!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Brian Epstein Interview-1964



The always-fascinating Brian Epstein, the true Fifth Beatle, the man without whose guidance the group would at best have been a minor European success.

1950's TV Show Openings



Not all classics. In fact, many of these are trivia questions at best but you do get the ubiquitous Betty White appearance (two of them actually!) and perennial Cincinnati OTR Convention guest Rosemary Rice with I REMEMBER MAMA.

Soviet Animation-1940's



Here is some quite good Soviet animation from the World War II era in anti-Nazi propaganda.

Captain America Trailer-1990



This so should have worked. Instead it wasn't really released at all. Turned up on bootleg video and soon enough was brought out on VHS. If only the costume (ears and all) hadn't been rubber. If only the Skull hadn't been Italian. If only the Skull hadn't had plastic surgery! If only the President of the United States hadn't saved the day instead of Cap! This COULD have worked, people!!!

Coconut Grove-The Lovin' Spoonful



Normally I don't do these audios to homemade video tracks but I've had this haunting song stuck in my head ever since doing my BUCK JONES post on FOUR-COLOR SHADOWS earlier today.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Alfred as Sherlock


We've added some new disks at BOOKSTEVE RARITIES for the month of February with the most intriguing to me being a volume three of rare Sherlock Holmes shorts. Along with a 1955 TV appearance of Boris Karloff as Mycroft Holmes, we also get the 1949 appearance of Alan Napier, Batman's butler Alfred in 1966, as the great consulting detective. The world's greatest detective's butler as the world's greatest detective! All for seven bucks plus postage! Check out all of the great new stuff we offer through the courtesy of Martin Grams at http://oldtimeradiotapes.homestead.com/StevenSiteNew.html .


SHERLOCK HOLMES FILM SHORTS (Volume Three)
THE ELGIN HOUR (Feb. 22, 1955) with Boris Karloff playing Holmes' smarter brother.
THE STRANGE CASE OF HENNESSY (1933) with Cliff Edwards
A CASE OF HYPNOSIS (1950s) with trained monkeys in costumes
LOST IN LIMEHOUSE (1930s vaudeville humor spoofing Holmes and Watson)
LUCKY STRIKE'S "YOUR SHOW TIME" with Alan Napier as Holmes & Evelyn Ankers in cast.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Musings on the New Captain America Poster


Seriously. This is the best they could do to entice the average filmgoer who doesn't know Cap from Batman? No mask/helmet. Are we really selling Chris Evans here over the character of Captain America...whose name isn't even mentioned except to plug the website? A scarred and scratched up shield, a brown, white and blue outfit. And the word..."Avenge." Avenge what, exactly? As a design it's well-made. As a marketing tool, this is virtually useless in my opinion.

I get the fact that Cap's origin is military-based. I really do. But does that mean that every single thing about the character anymore has to revolve around that? I mean, they practically have him carrying rations around with him along with his utility belt. Since when did Cap need a utility belt?? He's not Batman! What's that you say? Just trying to be realistic? IT'S A COMIC BOOK, YOU $%^&##@@!!! Not everything needs to be realistic! Cap was always an idealist who could be counted on for three things--1) to seem out of place anywhere he was at and yet dominate any room, 2) to take charge of any situation whether asked to do so or not and 3) to be able to make a damn good speech on any subject at the drop of a hat and with no speechwriters whatsoever! All I'm seeing in that poster up there is a good soldier. I appreciate soldiers and someone should make more positive films about them...but THIS was supposed to be the CAPTAIN AMERICA that makes up for Reb Brown's motorcycle helmet and Matt Salinger's rubber ears. If they don't get it right this time, will there ever be another chance?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Everything's Archie

Had this stuck in my head ever since I started assisting Craig Yoe on the upcoming Archie history! Came across this in one of the comics last night with slightly off-model characters.