Monday, March 31, 2014

My Family by Dee


Friend Dee continues to get better and better with her artwork. Here's a portrait of our extended family that she drew and colored last night.  From left to right--Thomas Seeley, Cali Rene Seeley, Brittany Rose Seeley, Booksteve, wife Rene, Bookdave, Dee herself and Georgia.

Is she good or what?


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Batman-the Silver Age Newspaper Comics: 1966-1967



Longtime readers of this blog will recall that the 1966 BATMAN AND ROBIN newspaper comic strip has long been a sort of holy grail for me. Although DC, seemingly embarrassed by the camp flavor of its early story arcs, had indicated it would never be reprinted, I had managed to gather--in varying quality--scans of about 80% of the strips over the years, including a few of the GALEXO strips! Thanks go out to all the individuals who passed them along to me! But now, wonder of wonders, we have the real thing!

IDW has actually partnered with DC to bring out the BATMAN strip in three gorgeous volumes! No word yet on whether they will include the ultra-rare Galexo strips but I would presume at least an article about them in the final volume.

Thanks to IDW, I received a preview copy last week of Volume 1. Let's be honest. These strips are fun on various levels but they are NOT in of themselves great. Their presentation here, on the other hand, most certainly IS impressive!

The whole package gets first class treatment. It's a hardcover volume with a nostalgic cover in the style of Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella done up in a perfect design by Pete Poplaski who also did the covers for Denis Kitchen's 1940s BATMAN strip reprint collections of some years back.

Joe Desris provides the first part of a history of how the strip itself came about up front and there's an extensive set of knowledgable annotations on each story at the rear, each section ably illustrated by little-seen promotional art.

But what of the stories themselves? Well, in the beginning, the camp style of the TV show was all-pervasive with the Caped Crusader stopping to help a little old lady across the street in route to the Commissioner's office or buying a ticket to the Policeman's ball while pulled alongside a motorcycle cop. Longtime Bob Kane ghost Sheldon Moldoff was the artist at first, although the early years of the strip later featured Infantino and finally Giella as well.

At first, the writing was by Whitney Ellsworth, the former DC editor who had gone west to oversee the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN TV series a decade earlier and stayed.


One of the conceits of the series, of course, was that famous guest stars would often play the villains. This really wasn't possible in the strip so it was cleverly decided to instead have actual celebrity guest appearances. Thus we have Paris Hilton's hotelier great-grandfather Conrad Hilton attempting to create a Bat-resort and, more importantly, a sequence featuring the legendary comedian Jack Benny assisting the Dynamic Duo to save his prized violin! After that, the idea was dropped.


Early days villains here include the Penguin (with his own version of Harley Quinn!), the Joker, the Catwoman and the then brand new Posion Ivy. New to the strip were others including pirate Jolly Roger and the evil Little Napoleon.

You even had Alfred! Bat fans will no doubt recall that Bruce Wayne's iconic butler had actually been killed off in the comic books after 1964's "New Look" came in and would only be reluctantly brought back in late summer of '66 as TV fans flocked to the comics and were surprised NOT to see Alfred. And yet here he was in the strip!

And Batgirl! The comic book Batgirl and the TV Batgirl debuted around the same time and yes, she, too is here in the strip, complete with a slightly different backstory than in normal continuity.

I won't even mention Batchap and Bobbin except to say that I always remembered them because they were my Dad's favorites!

Which brings us to the factor that explains why all this Bat-foolishness and Bat-folderol are worth it! The nostalgia factor. The stories are just okay. Nothing special. But if you're a fan of the classic 60s Batman, here's some occasionally gorgeous art you haven't seen lately if at all! If you're a fan of the TV series-itself about to finally get released on DVD--then this tie-in is a must. But best of all, if you were 7 like I was in '66 and anticipating every single day until the strip debuted in your local newspaper, then this IS a part of your childhood, your life, that you can now finally recognize and revisit legally, officially and in absolutely flawless quality.

BATMAN-THE SILVER AGE NEWSPAPER COMICS: 1966-1967 is a must for Bat-fans of all ages. You'll never know the full story of BATMAN without it!

Booksteve Recommends very MUCH!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Before and...


This is my "Before" picture. I was recently declared diabetic. After losing my job at the end of 2008 and failing to get another as my entire industry began shrinking, I gained more than 100 lbs over the next couple of years from being largely sedentary and didn't even realize it. My family saw me daily so they didn't realize how bad it was either. It got harder to walk very far and breathing became more difficult with even the slightest exertion. I developed a hernia as well. Sleep issues, too. Sigh.

At this point, thanks to Obamacare, I now have insurance again. My doctor tells me that many of my health issues can be solved or at least gotten under control by losing weight. About 100 lbs preferably. 

He's realistic enough to say that diets don't work. He says to start out by eating smaller portions of what I normally eat, then integrate more healthy stuff in the mix, also taking into account carbs, proteins, sugars, sodium and calories. And give up Cokes. For good.

This I have done...and I've lost 20 lbs (by my scale) since December! 9 of those in just the past month!

Last week I started taking my daily glucose levels and, with a goal of remaining under 130, I have remained between 93 and 111. 

And today, friend and protégé Dee bought us a treadmill with her tax refund! I'm going to beat this. All of it. Wish me luck. Send your good thoughts. They WILL be appreciated. 

Look for the "AFTER" picture this time next year!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meet Harry Shorten


From ARCHIE COMICS # 2, here's a fun look at Editor Harry Shorten. I wrote the piece on Shorten for Craig Yoe's coffee table ARCHIE history a few years ago. He not only midwifed the Riverdale redhead but also, 2 decades later, he decided to have his own paperback publishing company start producing comic books...and that was the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Available Again--DR. STRANGE on Radio!




Haven't posted a BOOKSTEVE RARITIES update lately. Lots of new items including a lot of rare cowboys and comedies! Remember, unless noted otherwise, all discs are $7.00 each plus a flat $6.00 postage within the US no matter how much you order. 

By popular demand, we are now offering the 2 CD set of the surviving episodes of the rare 1960s DOCTOR STRANGE radio series once again! If you missed it in january, here's your chance! By itself, the set is just $13.00 ($7.00 + $6.00 postage). All orders can be PayPaled to
booksteve@aol.com. 

8th Doctor Announced for Cincinnati!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Kathy Coleman and "MUM'S DIMES"




Many of my readers will no doubt remember my friend Kathy Coleman from the groundbreaking Saturday morning TV series LAND OF THE LOST in the seventies. Well, Kathy has posted on Facebook what I think is a great idea so I wanted to share it here as well. Hopefully many of us will get behind this.
Here's Kathy's original post:
MUM’S DIMES
I have a very interesting story to tell my Facebook friends: My mother passed away when I was 25-years-old. My mother was Australian and we called her “MUM”. About a year before my mother died, she visited my sister Colleen’s apartment that Colleen shared with a roommate. When my mother walked in through the door, she noticed a dime on the floor. She picked it up and asked if this was HER dime. Both Colleen and her roommate laughed because MUM had not been to the apartment before.
After MUM died, Colleen started to find dimes A LOT!!! Colleen didn’t make a connection at first, but after finding so many, she started to wonder if these were a message from MUM. Colleen told me this story and then I started to find dimes A LOT!!! We then told other family and friends and they started to find dimes A LOT!!! We all find them in the most amazing and ridiculous out-of-the-ordinary places.
Colleen found one dime balanced on the doorknob to her office, and one dropped out of the floorboard to her son Ian’s new home. Her son Max found one stuck in the seal of the refrigerator door and one inside the motor of a fan he was cleaning. When our sister got married for the first time at age 62 (which was a miracle in itself) we found over 10 dimes during her reception and wedding. We find dimes in the strangest places. They seem to appear during happy times of celebration and during hard times when we need the reassurance that someone is watching over us. Colleen found a dime right after she had to put her 15-year-old ill Dachshund to sleep and Colleen was feeling distraught.
We recently told this story to a mother and son that we made friends with. The next day, the son texted us to let us know that he had found a dime in the gym locker that he used that morning and again in front of his car door. Other people we have told this story to have also started finding dimes.
I would like to start a Movement in honor of my “MUM” that will benefit charity. I feel that any of you who are reading this story will also start to find dimes. I would LOVE if you will start to collect any dimes you find (maybe keep in a Ziploc baggie) and when you have maybe 10 or 20, drop them off at any COINSTAR and hit the button that donates these dimes to charity. It may only seem like a dollar or two that is going to charity, but if you tell your friends this story, these dime amounts could multiply and make a great contribution to charity! It will make us all feel good and at the same time we are doing something nice for others.
When any of you start to find dimes, please post your stories of where YOU found dimes, and the amount of dimes you dropped off at Coinstar, to my Facebook page. If this really takes off, I will start a new Facebook page called “MUM’s Dimes” dedicated to all my Facebook friend’s stories.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart….Kathy Coleman

Friday, March 21, 2014

Russ Heath in Comic Book Creator


The latest issue of COMIC BOOK CREATOR is out. Got my contributor copy today in spite of the fact that I didn't contribute much to this particular issue. That means there's all that much more that's new to me! The main thrust of this issue is revisiting the career of the great Russ Heath! Lots of great art, interviews and articles. You can order it from the link in the right column.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Self Portrait in Lenses



First one of these I've made in a while. This one is based from the image below it featuring me in one of my two new pairs of glasses.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Booksteve Reviews: Al Capp-A Life to the Contrary

As a child, I adored Al Capp's LI'L ABNER. It was a favorite from my earliest memories of it when I looked at the colorful silly drawings and my mother read me aloud the mostly dialect dialogue.

That said, when Denis Kitchen's wonderful series of reprints began in the 1980s, I was never really able to get into the strip. I gave up after the first few volumes but then jumped back in for a couple more as it hit the more classic years of the strip. I did relish the two FEARLESS FOSDICK collections and the later Frazetta collections were gorgeous to peruse.

But what it all comes down to is that, as an adult, I'm more fascinated by Al Capp and the phenomenon that was LI'L ABNER than I am by LI'L ABNER itself!

Which brings us to the recent book, AL CAPP-A LIFE TO THE CONTRARY by Michael Schumacher and, appropriately enough, Denis Kitchen. By this point, I don't think I had any misconceptions about Capp but if I had, this book certainly would have dispelled them.

Capp was, to put it mildly, a real piece of work. The authors offer up his story in a most readable manner, based on endless years of research and presented without much undue editorial comment or judgement. Ambitious and idealistic from the beginning, we see the artist's ego build and build as he stops at nothing for success, stepping over his friends, his family, his assistants and his original mentor, Ham Fisher, in ways that led to a long-running nasty feud and arguably even Fishers suicide.

All the while, he cultivated celebrity and fame and, while maintaining a  public family man image, began to be seduced by same. ABNER translated early to cartoons, then a motion picture, much merchandising, a hit Broadway play, a big screen musical, a TV pilot, a theme park and more! All the while, Capp appeared on radio, in movies, on television and even the covers of LIFE, TIME and NEWSWEEK! Even in an age where cartoonists got much more respect than they do today, this kind of fame was unprecedented.

Meanwhile, having spread himself a little too thin over the years, his strip was handled largely by unheralded and uncredited assistants, with Capp providing the ideas and allegedly always drawing or at least inking the characters' faces.

The authors cover this great rise to fame and fortune in some detail and manage to keep Al a somewhat sympathetic character...until the sixties. Capp's political and social leanings had always surfaced in his strip, resulting in some biting satire over the years. After 3 decades or so, though, the political climate changed in the real world and Capp seemed to be left behind and unable to catch up. By the end of the decade, he was lecturing on college campuses regularly, even putting out an album of one such lecture, and yet he was majorly against the counter-culture, against youth movements and in favor of the Vietnam War!

By this point, though, he had become a bit of a dirty old man and got into big-time trouble in his attempts at non-consensual "seduction" of campus co-eds! This is the section where the book colors in the details of the portrait so that we can see he was NEVER really the benign, upwardly mobile creative genius he appeared to the public to be. Schumacher and Kitchen, although clearly fascinated by their subject, perhaps reluctantly give us a "warts and all" look at the man we thought we knew and it isn't pretty.

AL CAPP-A LIFE TO THE CONTRARY, is an honest, riveting look at a man who was once one of the most famous men in America but whose light faded quickly when he couldn't control his dark side. It could be seen as a lesson...or simply a portrait. Either way, BOOKSTEVE RECOMMENDS!

You can grab a copy at Amazon at quite inexpensive prices now that it's more than a year old.


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Rondo Nominations Are In!


For some reason, and for the 3rd year in a row, my FOUR COLOR SHADOWS blog is nominated for Best Blog of 2013 in the 12th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. Those of you who frequent that blog will no doubt realize that while we do run quite a bit of horror and science-fiction we tend to veer more toward superheroes and humor. One reason for that is there are other great blogs that specialize in pre-Code horror comics already. One such blog is Steve Banes' THE HORRORS OF IT ALL, which is ALSO nominated for Best Blog of 2013!

Banes works with Craig Yoe on the regular HAUNTED HORROR comic book that ALSO covers that same territory and which was, itself, nominated for Best Horror Comic!

My friends Martin Grams, Terry Beatty and Tim Lucas all received nominations in various categories as well! Congrats, guys!

Voting is now open and anyone can vote ONCE! If you like FOUR COLOR SHADOWS, I'd appreciate your consideration even though I STILL don't see how I keep getting nominated!
Go here to vote:



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Nick Cardy Poster?


I just watched the Italian version of this movie and when I posted this American poster on Facebook the suggestion was made that it might be the work of comic book great Nick Cardy. Nick did do some movie posters in that period, mostly for major releases but also for exploitation films. I can't find any reference to this being one of his but the faces, the man at right's hair and the Bat Lash-like man at left certainly give it his "look." It's a nice poster no matter who did it but  does anyone know if this is by Cardy?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Best of the Original Sad Sack-1979


As unlikely as it seems, this book was being sold via mail-order through Harvey Comics in 1979. Although SAD SACK comic books had become a cottage industry for Harvey over the years since WWII, the original military-only strips by Sgt. George Baker had been not dirty but more adult in nature. The title alone refers to our hapless hero as being a "sad sack of sh*t!"

Friday, March 14, 2014

R.I.P. Bob Thomas


Journalist, reporter, author, movie critic and film historian Bob Thomas has passed at the age of 92. Mr. Thomas wrote, co-wrote or ghosted a number of film books that I enjoyed during my formative years as a movie buff.  
R.I.P.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mattel's Man in Space


Major Matt Mason, Sgt. Storm, Doug Davis, Jeff Long and all of their cool equipment were the Boys' Barbies when I was a kid. These are photos gathered from the Net. All I have left now are 3 of the vehicles seen in the above pic and the Firebolt Space Cannon two pics below.













Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Handsome Men


I got to thinking yesterday. Just what is "handsome" to me as a straight male? Not sexy or charismatic or attractive or cute or pretty-boy but just plain handsome. I remember the first time I ever saw Errol Flynn in a movie I thought he was the best-looking man I had ever seen. Still think so. Here, in no particular attempt at order, are some other handsome show biz men I came up with off the top of my head.


Steve Reeves


Fred Williamson


Vincent Price



Eric Clapton


George Clooney


Guy Williams


Richard Roundtree


John Barrowman


Pierce Brosnan


Roger Moore


Ron Ely


Ronald Colman


Michael Dorn


Robert Redford


Robert Brown



Lex Barker


Tyler Perry


Channing Pollack

Okay, those are a few of my ideal of handsome men. Who are some of yours?