Thursday, May 31, 2012

McMillan and Wife, Episode 1

One of my favorite seventies series was McMILLAN AND WIFE with Rock Hudson and Susan St James. Recently covered on THE BOOKSTEVE CHANNEL. here's the very first episode in its entirety on YouTube, one of many there, in fact!

Davey and Goliath

Art Clokey's claymation DAVEY & GOLIATH shorts produced for the Lutheran Church were Saturday and Sunday morning staples for most baby boomers. Davey was voiced by actor Dick Beals who died this week. R.I.P.

Eleanor Rigby-Godhead

Also seen on Facebook this morning, an Industrial rock cover of McCartney's classic ELEANOR RIGBY. Not my type of music but a fascinating cover in a strikingly poignant video.

The Art of Ditko Video

Yoe Books has started making videos and, in fact, sharing them on THE YOE TUBE! Here's the first, for the very first Yoe Book from a couple of years back, THE SRT OF DITKO. Look fro THE CREATIVITY OF DITKO coming this summer. It's dedicated to yours truly!

Lo Lieh in English

Thanks to Facebook friend Kazunori Ito for pointing out this rare English language interview clip of the late Lo Lieh, legendary star of such martial arts classics as FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH and such cult films as Lee Van Cleef's comic western, THE STRANGER AND THE GUNFIGHTER. Although a long-time star in Hong Kong films, he was actually Indonesian.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Booksteve Reviews: Archie's Sunday Finest

I first discovered Archie Andrews in comic books when my cousin showed me some 1966 copies of LIFE WITH ARCHIE circa 1968. I had at least some familiarity with the character and his friends before that, however, courtesy of Bob Montana's long-running newspaper comic strip version.

For last year's history of Archie Comics--ARCHIE: A CELEBRATION OF AMERICA'S FAVORITE TEENAGERS--I researched and wrote the chapter on Bob Montana. After I wrote it (but before it came out) IDW published their collection of the artist's first few years of the daily strip which went on to win the Eisner Award! I got it as a Christmas gift from my wife in 2010.

This year, Craig Yoe's book--the one I helped write--is up for an Eisner Award itself! And IDW has just released its follow-up Bob Montana book-- a collection of the early years of the ARCHIE Sunday strips in full color!

Thanks to the good folks at IDW, I have on hand a review copy of the new book and I pronounce it--GREAT!

There was just something about the Sunday funnies in those days. They were bigger, more colorful, better drawn and somehow looked and felt more respectable than their comic book cousins or than even modern newspaper strips.

And the artists themselves got more respect! Successful cartoonists of the Golden Age were well-paid, well-respected and often became quite the celebrity to the public at large. Once Bob Montana started the ARCHIE newspaper strip, it was considered "separate but equal" to the comic book version. He never looked back. In a way, his--as co-creator--is a more authentic vision of the Riverdale gang. A couple of folks interviewed for the Archie history book pointed out that it was always a big deal when Montana made his annual pilgrimage to the Archie offices (usually for the Christmas party). Even for folks now thought of as celebs by comics aficionados, meeting Montana was meeting a STAR!

ARCHIE'S SUNDAY FINEST starts with the seemingly required introduction--in this case a more detailed piece on Bob than I had room for in the big history. It all seemed so familiar to me but if you hadn't heard it, it's well done and a more fascinating story than one might expect from a cartoonist bio.

Then we get to the meat of the matter: more than 150 beautifully drawn, full-color Sunday comic strips reprinted in large size and covering the earliest years of the strip in the late forties. Without the continuity of the early daily strips, the first thing the reader notices is that the Sundays are akin to pages from ARCHIE'S JOKE BOOK, only with more humor per page and generally funnier punchlines.

As you might expect, everyone is present--Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica, Reggie, Miss Grundy, Mr, Weatherbee and even prototypical versions of some of the later Archie gang like Dilton. Something that adds to these strips now is the warm familiarity of the cast, at the time still relatively new to readers. Veronica is a bit more shallow than she is later on, Betty a bit more scheming, but they're all recognizable. In a way, this is a very pure version of Archie and friends as we have yet to have decades of changing with the latest fads.

The real star here, though, is Bob Montana himself. With most of his work long unavailable for reevaluation, Montana's name has settled into being a trivia question, the answer to "Name the co-creator of ARCHIE."ARCHIE'S SUNDAY FINEST, along with last year's dailies collection and, to some extent, the Eisner-nominated Archie history, have given us some basis to revisit his work...and it's good!

As with many of the great strips, one can simply savor the detail that went into the art in each panel. As is traditional, in spite of their ages, Archie's girls are drawn to be very attractive. Montana's facial expressions go a long way toward making the jokes--some of which are admittedly labored--seem even funnier.

Overall, ARCHIE'S SUNDAY FINEST works as a fun and funny book but works even better as an art book, yet another tribute to one of the great unsung cartoonists of the Golden Age of comic strip art, Bob Montana. Can't wait to see more volumes, daily and Sunday!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Bookdave's Woes

Seen here is a prototype logo son Bookdave and I came up with a while back for a blog I still hope he may get around to doing someday.

Yesterday, David had a seizure--his second in a month. His second ever! After an ER ambulance run  for the first one, he returned quickly to being his old self but has been undergoing tests. His EKG and MRI have been normal but his EEG showed some abnormalities. The neurologist appointment is coming up. We have no idea what is causing these.

We had been hoping the first seizure had been just a one-off synaptic glitch. Now, here we are again, worrying that at any given time he might fall to the ground zombie-like, eyes staring but not seeing. It could happen when crossing the street or going up stairs or any one of hundreds of other inappropriate times for it. Hell, there are NO appropriate times.

The seizures themselves, we are assured, are not that likely to cause permanent damage of any kind. Hitting his head on something when he falls, however, is another matter.

The on-call doctor last night indicated that since the seizure had passed we didn't really need to take him to the ER again. So he sat up a while before going to bed. Somehow it all seemed surreally normal. I hate the fact that we're acclimating to the fact of him having seizures. I hate the fact that he's HAVING seizures!

On this Memorial Day, we're having a quiet holiday of sitting around listening to Dave breathe and being thankful for the best kid ever.

Stress. It is my constant companion.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Skippy Celebrity Ads

Being as broke as we perpetually are, we've been eating a lot of peanut butter lately. The generic kind because it's cheaper. As a kid, though, my favorite was SKIPPY! Here are a couple of print ads SKIPPY had put right around the time I was born. It may have been ads like these that persuaded my Mom to get SKIPPY!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bronze Age Sub-Mariner Splash Page Saturdays # 64

Okay, we're back in better territory at last. Not that this one is all that great but it does at least show that some thought has gone into design and placement. Veteran Don Heck, although much maligned, was truly one of the most original Marvel artists at his peak. By this point, Heck had simplified his style, though, which gave it a sketchy look that's reigned in nicely here by Don Perlin's inks. The reds balance out the sides, the yellows aren't overly bright and the backgrounds are well-done. By the way, "sequestrate" really is a word. I looked it up. Trust Gerber never to write down to his audience. There's also another Tales of Atlantis back-up but I've decided to pass on those in favor of the main feature.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Star Wars

It's easy to put down STAR WARS these days because now it's not only a franchise but a whole generation has grown up with the mythos and seen it distilled into a thousand variations in comics, movies and on TV. What might be a little harder to remember is that when that first movie--now called Episode 4 (Ugh!) came out, 35 years ago today, it was well and truly the biggest phenomenon the movie industry had seen in years.

THE DEEP with Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset was supposed to be the big hit in the summer of 1977.  In fact, George Lucas's costly follow-up to his hit AMERICAN GRAFFITI was considered to be little more than a glorified B science-fiction effort for the kiddies.

There was little advance word in those days. The novelization by Alan Dean Foster (writing as George Lucas) had come out nearly a year earlier and gone virtually unnoticed. Small mentions in a new nerd mag called STARLOG referred to it as THE STAR WARS and gave it about an equal amount of coverage as KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS and THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT.

But then people started seeing it. The critics, for the most part, loved it and called it an old-fashioned western set in space. Advance word started to spread. The fans loved it even more! I saw it with a capacity crowd on opening night at the Showcase Cinemas in Springdale, Ohio. That was, in fact, the ONLY place to see it in this area at the time because the other Showcase Cinemas, the one closest to me, had opted NOT to run STAR WARS at all in favor of some now forgotten film they expected would do better. Because of that retrospectively asinine decision, they were prevented from picking up STAR WARS for nearly a month after it had opened!

I knew Mark Hamill from a short-lived TV series he had been in as well as a TV movie with Linda Blair. I had not seen AMERICAN GRAFFITI and thus had no idea who Harrison Ford was. I knew Carrie Fisher from her parentage and from reading about her dirty scene in SHAMPOO, another film I hadn't seen. Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing and the voice of Darth Vader--not at that time credited but instantly recognizable as that of James Earl Jones--were the only others I knew in the cast.

Flashback to 1968 as I eagerly anticipated 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY only to ultimately be horribly disappointed by what I considered then as now to be dull, pseudo-intellectual sci-fi claptrap. In 1977 it occurred to me that what I had really been waiting for a decade earlier...was STAR WARS.

Just for a second--if it can still be done--take Episode 4 out of context. Forget Jabba and Ewoks and Jar-Jar and Anakin. Just look at this one film on its own, self-contained. It is an extraordinary piece of both filmmaking and myth-making. There is little new in the plot of the young, naive kid whose folks are killed, he teams up with an older experienced gunfighter and they head off across the desert to rescue the schoolmarm...or in this case, princess. STAR WARS is a classic formula dressed up in shiny new clothes with a winning cast, amusing moments and some genuinely exciting action sequences. And the special effects! These days we take for granted what can be done with green screen and CGI but much of STAR WARS effects were miniatures. An amazing group of craftsmen worked on the visual and audio effects. Truss the whole package up in John Williams' rousing score and you really do have an impressive, entertaining package the likes of which had never before been seen on the big screen.

And fans went to see it over and over that summer. I personally saw it eight times--twice with friend Terry, once with my parents, once with my cousin and four times on my own! My wife, whom I didn't even know at the time, saw it twelve times that summer. Odds are we were in the same theater at least once and didn't even know it!

It stayed in the same theaters for over a year and the last time I saw it, the theaters were nearly as crowded as they were that first time. If you weren't there, you literally can't imagine what it was like. A few weeks after I first saw STAR WARS, I went to see THE DEEP when it first opened. It was okay but the theater was mostly empty. Everyone was off seeing STAR WARS again. Happy Anniversary, old friend. May the Force be with you always!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Will Eisner Books

Most Will Eisner fans know that the artist spent many years with PS Magazine for the military after retiring THE SPIRIT in the early fifties. But what did he do in the period between leaving PS and when THE SPIRIT became popular again? Books!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Humor Magazine

One of a zillion brilliant ideas I had that never went anywhere--HUMOR MAGAZINE from 1980. Wach issue would have spotlighted a famous comedian or comic actor (here, Groucho) and featured articles and photos about contemporary and vintage comedy movies, TV shows and books.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Going Downhill

Looks like our efforts at KICKSTARTER are for naught as the days are dwindling and we haven't had a single new backer in more than a week. Not taking it down. We'll let it run its course but with only about 1% in thus far, it seems unlikely.

As I am having to juggle and scramble to keep us afloat again, posts here may be light for a while. A reminder that a more direct route toward helping us out as well as keeping all of the Booksteve Blogs going is to contribute to the DONATE button at right. Thanks!

(Art above is by me on the MAC this afternoon.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Booksteve Reviews: Jay & Silent Bob Get Old

I don’t get out much any more. Between my perpetual lack of funds and the fact that I wouldn’t pay the kind of money needed to see most things these days even if I had it, I just don’t.

But when an old, old friend called me up and invited me to a taping of Kevin Smith’s podcast, JAY & SILENT BOB GET OLD—his treat—I took him up on it.

Kevin Smith first popped up on my radar when CHASING AMY arrived on cable circa 1998. Being the geek I am, I relished it as a true product of geekdom. One of my favorite parts—or two I suppose--was Jay and Silent Bob, two characters played respectively by Jason Mewes and Smith himself. They were shady characters whom I would learn soon enough served almost as Smith’s Hitchcockian cameo in most of his films, street-corner drug dealers with hearts of gold. Bob didn’t speak…much. Jay, on the other hand, let loose with a brain-dead streak of creative profanity and scatological idioms.

They became so popular that they were given major roles in what must pass for Smith’s cinematic masterpiece so far, DOGMA. An attempt at a starring vehicle in JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK wasn’t nearly as successful but certainly had some fun moments.

In real life, Kevin the comparatively intellectual multi-talented filmmaker, author, screenwriter, comic book creator, lecturer, actor and comic shop owner was best of friends with Mewes, the stoner…but in real life, Mewes’ drug issues weren’t funny at all.

Which brings us to JAY AND SILENT BOB GET OLD, a weekly podcast devised by Smith as a way of keeping his best friend alive by keeping him out there both enjoying the adulation of fans and talking about his issues very publicly. As he puts it, the whole show is a creative form of an intervention.

As such, kudos to both men. As a show, however, JAY & SILENT BOB GET OLD leaves much to be desired.

We saw it at the Madison Theater here in Covington, Kentucky. As kids, my friend and I had seen YELLOW SUBMARINE, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES at the same theater. We also spent many a kiddie matinee there with hundreds of screaming kids shooting spitballs at the screen through straws. We even saw THE POPEYE SHOW, a stage show featuring costumed actors as Popeye, Frankenstein’s Monster, Ultraman and Heckle and Jeckle.

Oddly enough, the theater, which had stopped showing movies in the mid-eighties and sat idle for many years, hadn’t changed all that much.  It reopened for small-scale rock concerts and dancing a few years back now but I hadn’t been there since REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS more than thirty years ago.

One of the problems with the fact that it hadn’t changed much was that there were few good seats. Unlike most theaters that have a steep slant so the folks in back can see better, the Madison never did and still doesn’t.

One of the ways it HAS changed is that the whole front section is now a bar. The lines were literally curled down the block and around the corner when I arrived but the doors opened and 8 and all were quickly admitted. The show, however, started nearly 25 minutes past its announced 9 PM starting time and, in the meantime, the bulk of the audience had gotten themselves pretty well soused.

Finally, out come Smith and Mewes to cheers and hoots and a standing ovation befitting the sort of rock stars they are. The sound system was quite good but I still had trouble hearing much of the show thanks to a drunken lady in our row who randomly yelled out and chortled an ear-numbing chortle whenever someone on stage said a dirty word.

And there were lots of dirty words. Some of you may recall my stance on being dirty for laughs: I don’t care how dirty, gross or inappropriate it is, as long as it’s funny. Much of Jason Mewes’ dirty talk was just that—dirty, but unfunny. Oh, he hit a few moments here and there as when describing trying to feed deer he had seen the night before when he and Smith were staying in Columbus, Ohio.

Smith, on the other hand, uses profanity creatively both in conversation as well as in his humor. He was quick to point out that those unfamiliar with the show who expected to actually see the pair in character were undoubtedly confused as to why the fat guy was doing so much of the talking.

He told a mostly hilarious story of where they had stayed the night before—at a house used by the local Swingers Club in Columbus. He read tweets from folks in the audience that he had received prior to the show and even invited one very excited man up on stage to see where he had gotten an inspirational quote from Smith’s most recent book tattooed on his arm.

Jason talked about masturbating and also about having sex.

Kevin pointed out the irony in performing his intervention before drunken crowds like ours and we celebrated 2 years and 51 days of Jay’s sobriety. Smith also wrote an impromptu song for the wife of someone who had tweeted him about his own sobriety issues. The audience all sang along…loudly, drunkenly and off-key but it’s the thought that counts.

Mewes was given the floor for a cautionary tale from his drug abuse days, a scary/creepy story which had, for him at the time, become his norm.

After that, the show wound up with its infamous segment where three volunteers are chosen from the audience to improvise Kevin’s simulated sex acts with a local slant onstage with Mewes. It was dumb, pure and simple, but a crowd-pleaser nonetheless.

Was it a good show? Yes and no. I don’t have to be stoned in order to enjoy Gilbert Shelton’s FREAK BROTHERS or even Smith’s movies…but I think the alcohol definitely enhanced this show for those who indulged.

Kevin Smith has proven himself to be a clever and funny raconteur on stage, on film and in his various podcasts. He can talk endlessly and creatively about just about anything and even his serious discussions can be funny. This wasn’t his best night. Jason Mewes, God love him, is a good guy who tries hard. I hope for his sake and Kevin’s that he makes it. He and Smith make a good team…with a script where he’s using Kevin’s words.

I have to give thumbs down to the good old Madison, though, at least for this type of show. It was nice seeing the place again for a few moments but I can’t foresee any situation that could lure me back. As I said, I don't get out much anymore. When I did get out on a more regular basis, being in an altered stage of consciousness wasn't an actual requirement for enjoying a show. 

The episode of JAY & SILENT BOB GET OLD they recorded last night should be on in a couple of weeks at:

Bronze Age Sub-Mariner Splash Page Saturdays # 63

A nice big explosion yet somehow still pretty dull. Once again there's way too much exposition here and the boxes are oddly placed in the very center of the art. Note the lack of Namor himself, never a good idea. Bill Everett's name is up there, apparently his story playing out. But Gerber's (over) writing it and Sam Kweskin's still on the layouts. Syd Shores, another Golden Age veteran (albeit a much better one), is on the inks. The whole thing leads to pretty much of a mishmash of an issue following this lackluster splash. 
Interestingly enough, this issue has another splash what with a new backup feature entitled TALES OF ATLANTIS. The art on this Gerber story is by a young Howard Chaykin and while it's a bit more intriguing than the main story's, I really don't know these folks and the splash doesn't convince me that I want to either. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old

I first discovered Kevin Smith through his film CHASING AMY and quickly backtracked through his other movies and tried to stay current from there. I was offered a free ticket to see JAY AND SILENT BOB GET OLD, a live audience recording for one of the podcasts done by Smith and his cohort Jason Mewes. That's tonight at a theater I haven't attended in thirty years. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Thanks to Ace Researcher Derek Tague for this clip of various Catwomen, just in time for the new movie.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman--Today!

In the news today, two of my favorite TV stars of the late seventies team-up, probably for the first time since they adorned my wall when I was 17 years old!

Lynda Carter was visually perfect as WONDER WOMAN--absolutely, unquestionably perfect. But Lindsay Wagner brought a humanizing element and at times more depth than needed to her role as Jaime Sommers, THE BIONIC WOMAN.

Both women were gorgeous then and equally gorgeous today when Lindsay was presented a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Me Time

Taking the weekend off for a little "me" time. Will continue posting at 1974 but everything else will return Monday. Have a great weekend, all.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Incentives Adjusted-Please Consider a Pledge

After sitting at $127.00 for the past two weeks on our campaign to fund a book of my 1976 high school journal blog, we suddenly got two more backers after adjusting the incentives so that you now get a signed copy of the eventual book at the $50.00 level! Please check it out and consider pledging! 31 Days to go!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Antonio Carlos Jobim - Aquas de Marco

I've rarely heard a version of this song in any language that I didn't like. This particular version is by the song's author himself, in concert in 1991.

Comic Book Couples-A 2009 Panel

Here's Part 1 (of 6) of a 2009 panel featuring famous comic book creator couples! Wendy & Richard, Trina and Steve, Jill and's almost like an episode of the old game show TATTLETALES only with comics people!

Patrick McGoohan Clips

One of my favorite actors since I first saw THE PRISONER as a kid. This compilation includes clips from his medical series RAFFERTY, about an eccentric doctor, said by some to be a prototype of HOUSE.

Felix the Cat Finds Out

Felix the Cat will soon be coming up on his 100th anniversary...and he just keeps on walking! Yoe Books' FELIX THE CAT book is now out in paperback.


Bill The Boy Wonder

A few years ago, an author named Marc Tyler Nobleman wrote me about a book he was doing on Batman's unacknowledged co-creator, Bill Finger. It won't be long now...

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Seventies Art By Me

Found another cache of my old artwork, this from 1974-1979. I posted these on Facebook but wanted to share them here, also. I never did get the hang of drawing  hands but I did get better at feet. My anatomy is obviously comic book anatomy. I know it isn't all that good but I look at it now and see lost potential.