Saturday, September 16, 2023



Sorry posts have been so light again lately. Currently copyediting a book on The Lone Ranger, writing an article on Robert Crumb's Mr. Natural for 2024 magazine publication, finishing the manuscript formatting for the McHale’s Navy book I recently co-wrote with author Denny Reese, reading several books for my review column at Forces of Geek,. another book co-written with Linda Alexander and Martin Grams, Jr, on James Garner's Maverick, is recently out, and Connecticut in the Movies, the book I worked behind the scenes on with illeana Douglas is just two weeks away! 

As far as my health, I have an appointment with a new cardiologist coming up on Monday. In consultation with my old cardiologist, they seem to have decided I don't have the type of heart problems they thought I had at all, but instead a completely different type of issue, which would require different treatment and meds. Cross your fingers.

I've got an item coming up in a comics auction soon--more on that later, and some possible good news regarding...well, no...better not even mention that one yet or I could jinx it.

Speaking of jinxes, there's a Friday the 13th in October! Always a week or so of weird GOOD luck for me!

So keep watching this space and I'll be back soon!

Still time to pre-order Connecticut in the Movies at the discounted price here---

And you can order Maverick here---

Friday, September 01, 2023

Booksteve Reviews": Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller-The Man Who Created Nancy by Bill Griffith

Originally posted at FORCES OF GEEK!

Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller: The Man Who Created Nancy’ (review)

Written and Illustrated by Bill Griffith
Published by Abrams Books

Let’s get one thing straight right up front here.

Bill Griffith’s brilliant new book, Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller: the Man Who Created Nancy, is an absolute treat!

I’ve actually never been much of a fan of Griffith’s work so I wasn’t at all sure what to expect.

I worshipped the often surreal Nancy strip growing up, though, and realized I knew less about Bushmiller than, say, Walt Kelly, Charles Schulz, or Milton Caniff.

Griffith, himself a cartoonist for half a century now, has been on record for decades as a major Nancy fan so he was the perfect person to tackle this lofty project, coming, as it does, on the relatively recent heels of the also brilliant How to Read Nancy by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden.

At first, I was expecting a prose biography but Three Rocks is, appropriately enough, a graphic novel, cleverly utilizing repurposed Bushmiller art throughout alongside new art from Griffith.

And that new art is at times amazing.

My absolute favorite is a large finely detailed image set underneath an elevated train track that shows up on page 79.

Then, just two pages later, the artist completely redraws that same shot but from a slightly different angle and just up the street. Both images have thousands of lines and both images are stunning! Both also have old cars in them and Griffith draws them with a clear and obvious affection. Bushmiller’s story itself is interesting, although not incredibly different from a standard successful cartoonist story but for the fact of his growing eccentricities. He comes across as a likable chap who, in time, grows to be a tad full of himself, while steadfastly refusing to modernize his increasingly old-fashioned bread and butter comic strip in any way.

There are a lot of quotes directly from Bushmiller’s numerous interviews through the years, as well as a lot of examples of Nancy strips used to illustrate the biographer’s various points illustrating Bushmiller’s various points. It all becomes very meta.

This is especially true as we wind down Ernie’s story and follow a fictionalized version of Griffith himself as he visits the now retired Nancy in order to hear her version of things in a bittersweet section that nonetheless takes us to a somewhat happy ending.

Bushmiller may well have been pretty much set in his ways but Griffith utilizes every trick in his playbook to share that information with us, emphasizing endlessly inventive and creative page layouts and panel usage. Just looking at the thumbnails on the side of my PDF review copy shows his non-stop use of unique tricks to convey not just the cartoonist’s story but in a way, a story of time, and its effects—both good and bad—on all of us.

Using Nancy herself here as a narrator and a character was a great idea, and the back matter tells us that all of Nancy and Sluggo’s appearances are actual Bushmiller art, often deftly mixed in with Griffy backgrounds.

If you’re one of those folks who consider Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy to be a work of twisted genius, you’ll likely find that Three Rocks by Bill Griffith is another work of twisted genius.

Booksteve highly recommends! 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Fess Parker's Frontier World


To the kids of the 1950s, Fess Parker was Walt Disney's Davy Crockett. In the '60s, though, when I was around, Fess Parker was Daniel Boone. Similarly attired, yet very real-life different historical persons.

In 1968, Fess lent his name and millions of dollars to a proposed theme park in BOONE County, Kentucky, the very next county over from where we lived. It got a LOT of publicity. It seemed like it was on the local TV news and in the papers almost daily for long months. As a kid, I couldn't wait until the proposed amusement park was opened, supposedly in 1970!

The basic story is in the articles seen here, although like so many business deals, it was pretty complicated and went pretty sour in the long run.

Another tie to me was that the realtor involved with all this was one C.B. Deters. Deters was a former newspaper reporter and editor and also at that time, I believe, the Chairman of the Board of the Cincinnati Airport.

C.B. Deters was also my landlord.

When I was 7 years old, my dad talked Deters into renting to us even though he had a "no children" rule for the apartment building he owned in Covington, KY. With no grandfathers of my own, I came to think of him as a grandfather figure. I ended up living there until I was 33 years old, outlasting both parents and C.B. Deters himself.

I was disappointed that Fess Parker's Boone County project was never realized. Wonder if ol' C.B. could've gotten me in free? 


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Meta and Jeff

Sorry I haven't updated lately. No real change in my health situation but lots of other stuff going on, some of which I can tell you about soon...hopefully soon. 

In the meantime, enjoy this odd MUTT & JEFF strip. Someone said they weren't sure if the artist (Al Smith) was being very creative or very lazy. 


Monday, July 24, 2023

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Bobby Clark-1947

One of the great but now-forgotten comedians was Bobby Clark, with his painted on glasses and his fast-talking, Groucho-like patter. Many people seem to have discovered Clark--myself included--from Leonard Maltin's 1970s book on great comedy teams. He was part of a double act, Clark and McCullough, with his childhood friend Paul McCullough, who tragically committed suicide in 1936. Many of the team's once buried films have popped up on YouTube in recent years. 

What people don't realize is that Clark, although he never made another film, continued on as a stage comic, and even did quite a bit of early, live television.