Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I first discovered BLACKHAWK in my barber's shop as a kid. He always had a bunch of coverless BLACKHAWK comics going all the way back to the mid-fifties issues and right up to the red-jacketed sixties versions. I confess a weakness for BLACKHAWK in spite of the repetitive plots and general inanity of the later ones. For many years I collected the title in all of its forms. After a fairly dreadful seventies revival, the whole series was redeemed in the eighties in a long and amazingly good run by Mark Evanier (who would want me to remind you that tomorrow is NATIONAL GORILLA SUIT DAY) and artist Dan Spiegle only to be dragged way down into the gutter by Howard Chaykin in a nonetheless popular miniseries (that featured DC's first blowjob scene) which later spawned a less popular regular series. Along the way there was a movie serial (with Kirk Alyn), a short-lived radio version and an unusual novel by the equally unusual William Rotsler (who deserves a whole blog piece unto himself). Seen here is an early 1950's ad from when the title was still being published by Quality that alleges that BLACKHAWK was at that time the "most popular and widely read comic magazine" of them all! Is this true?
Monday, January 29, 2007
There's an early issue of Marvel's parody comic NOT BRAND ECCH in which the Sunk-Mariner takes a job as a pointy-eared alien science officer on a sci-fi TV series. Hmmm...wonder if that might have been inspired by this contemporary TALES TO ASTONISH rendering of the real Sub-Mariner by Dandy Dan Adkins looking for all the world like a certain Vulcan.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
When you've been around as long as the Man of Steel, it's inevitable that you're going to meet a lot of famous people. Superman has, on various ocassions, met Batman, Spider-Man, Predator, Alien, Captain Carrot, Bugs Bunny, the Fantastic Four, Lucy Ricardo, Rex Reed, Orson Welles, Allen Funt and here, in perhaps one of his earliest celebrity crossovers, the one and only Cinderella! From a mid-forties issue of ACTION COMICS, Supes saves the day by getting Cindy to the ball to meet the Prince!
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Running for 21 issues beginning in 1946, DC's REAL FACT COMICS was an unusual mag in that it literally offered true life stories rather than long underwear heroes in its pages. Movie stars, sports stars and just ordinary people were given thecomic strip profile treatment. Issue # 5 even offered the supposedly true story (although actually wildly fictionized!) of Bob Kane and his creation of BATMAN. Essentially an anthology title, it ran into the same trouble that most anthologies encounter--maintaining an audience when you have no regular characters.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Here's yet another Timely ad, this one for the second issue of SUB-MARINER from the early 1940's. Note, though, that even here, in the midst of Namor's ad, somebody (Stan?) sneaks in a plug for MYSTIC COMICS featuring (as we noted earlier) THE MIGHTY DESTROYER, herein described as
"the most daringly different character in any comic magazine." Yeah. Different because he was a walking fashion faux pas.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Here's a late sixties ad that shows just how Stan Lee had already become a personality in his own right in a way that Julie Schwartz, Mort Weisinger and even Dick Giordano never did. Supposedly offering a signed photo of Ol' Smiley, I really, really wanted to order it from this nicely lettered ad but hey, a dollar could buy you five or six comics back then so I opted to do that rather than send in.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Since we have more junk here than in Fibber McGee's legendary closet, we, of course, have a gorilla suit here at the Library. You probably do, too if you're the sort to be reading this in the first place. As a child, every time I saw a guy on TV in a gorilla suit, I presumed it to be one Janos Prohaska, a professional gorilla impersonator introduced from time to time by Bob Barker on TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES. Comics fans will recognize that this name was much later retconned in as the real name of BLACKHAWK! Somehow I don't think we're really supposed to think that it's the same guy. Anyway, next week, dig your suit out of mothballs and let's all celebrate!
Read all about National Gorilla Suit Day over at Mark Evanier's busy corner of the Web.:
I don't remember exactly where I first heard of CAPTAIN TOOTSIE but it was probably in a fanzine in the seventies. Although just one page ads for Tootsie Rolls, these 1940's ads were produced by the folks who were then producing the gazillion-selling CAPTAIN MARVEL comic. Notably, this meant the great C. C. BECK with his amazingly neat, clean cartoon style, aided here by his longtime studio assistant, Pete Costanza (who, during the Silver Age, drew some memorable JIMMY OLSEN issues).
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
BLACKENSTEIN followed BLACULA at the box offices in 1973 and, in fact, had once had the great William Marshall's name attached to it. By the time it came out however, the biggest name in the film was John Hart. Himself a trivia question, Hart was the actor who replaced Clayton Moore temporarily as the LONE RANGER on '50's TV when Moore was told that anyone could wear the mask. Turns out that wasn't true. Oh, Hart was stalwart enough but Moore had something special about him. Hart would return to the role briefly in the legendarily bad THE PHYNX, made just a few years prior to BLACKENSTEIN. Basically, you have this African-American gentleman who is injured in Viet Nam and is revived through science to become a living monster! Kenneth Strickfaden's original FRANKENSTEIN electrical equipment is trotted out yet again (as it was for several films of the era including DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN). The monster is played by one Joe De Sue, of which this is his only listed credit. In fact, with the exception of Andrea King whose career went back to the early 1940's, this was the only listed credit of most of the folks involved. The director, William Levey, went on to direct that classic of demented cinema, 1977's THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES TO WASHINGTON, starring Joey Heatherton, George Hamilton and my pal from the radio conventions, Will Hutchins.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
A major television flop from the up until then golden touch of Executive Producer Norman Lear, A YEAR AT THE TOP came and went almost simultaneously in 1977...and that was after recasting and extensive reshoots on the pilot which delayed its airing for some months. The show starred musician Paul Shaffer (then of SNL and soonishly to begin a 25 year plus partnership with David Letterman) and handsome Greg Evigan soon to star on BJ AND THE BEAR (arguably the gayest TV series title of them all if you think about it). It was, however, originally supposed to star MGM legend Mickey Rooney (soon to revitalize his career in Broadway's SUGAR BABIES). Rooney's character, seen here in this early publicity still, was a casualty of the changes. The premise dealt with two guys who sold their soul to the devil's son in exchange for a year at the top in the music industry and immediately regretted it. Hilarity, as they say, ensued...or so somebody thought it would anyway. In spite of big publicity and even controversy, no one watched. No one cared.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I know, I know. Looks like the Library is becoming Ads-R-Us lately but here's another one advertising ALL-WINNERS COMICS, the 1940s' anthology that eventually would bring the public the two appearances of Marvel's only Golden Age super team, the All-Winners Squad. Black Marvel wouldn't make the cut but the Angel ran for years, more a ripoff of the Saint than a super hero at times. Still, I wonder why he wasn't a member? Anyway, hopefully, I'll be through my sleep deprivation period soon. We're way overdue for another movie that fell though the cracks or, hey, maybe some Linda Blair! In the meantime, though, enjoy this rare ad.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
The Library has been having more than its share of technical difficulties of late and we would like to beg your indulgence. As sleep deprivation has not aided the issue, we will (YAAAAWN!) return tomorrow with our regularly scheduled POP! In the meantime, here's my friend Brittany (seen earlier in the week in photomanipulation) as a colorful cat!
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Yesterday we blogged about the nearly forgotten DESTROYER, one of Timely(Marvel)'s earliest and actually successful heroes! Today, here are a series of images from various issues of the company's early forties title, DARING MYSTERY COMICS. Unlike most other Martin Goodman anthology titles, DARING MYSTERY never found a lead chracter that worked. In fact, it never found any character that lasted, thus these seen here may well be the least known Marvel heroes of them all!
Monday, January 15, 2007
Back in the sixties, the coolest thing about FANTASY MASTERPIECES and its more modestly titled version, MARVEL SUPER HEROES was that it would on occasion reprint golden age stories of heroes I had never heard of before! Thus, I was first introduced to the Vision, the Black Marvel, the Whizzer and the Destroyer.
One of Stan Lee’s earliest super hero creations, the Destroyer first appeared in 1941, taking much of his origin from Captain America as he was given a super soldier formula by a scientist.Several of his early stories pre-dated US involvement in the soon to be named World War II and yet Stan already had his hero working behind the lines in Germany to help the oppressed with his super-soldier powers.
Cursed with one of the most garish costumes ever, the Destroyer stories are nonetheless enjoyable little espionage pieces with lots of fighting and gratuitous violence--just exactly what comics were known for in those days. Appearing in a number of comics for the duration of the war and just a bit beyond, the strip featured artwork by a variety of folks including Al (CAPTAIN AMERICA) Avison, Jack (MARY MARVEL) Binder and John( TALES OF THE BIZARRO WORLD) Forte (of all people!). Whether he wrote a particular story or not (some were done by Otto Binder) Stan was often bylined as the character’s creator.
Seen here is a rare shot of Cap, Torch and Subby, the later Invaders, welcoming the Destroyer and also the Whizzer to ALL WINNERS COMICS. Roy Thomas would later revive both characters in his retro series THE INVADERS in the 1970’s, the Destroyer eventually becoming the new Union Jack. I believe a modern version has even appeared more recently. Living in the past as I tend to do, though, I wouldn’t know about that. He DID have a cameo in one of the recent STAN LEE MEETS… titles, however! Nice touch!
Sunday, January 14, 2007
It’s easy to make fun of these old Johnson Smith mail order ads (this one from 1941) with their teeny-tiny type and their outlandish products but let’s take a closer look. I think these guys were onto something!
First of all, their Ju-Jitsu course was clearly designed to foster an interest in learning martial arts some 32 years before Bruce Lee had every kid in America taking Karate lessons.
The blank cartridge pistol is labeled as "Fine for Protection," presaging the concealed carry movement by decades.
"Broadcast through your radio! Talk! Sing! Play!" says one ad. You know, like you do on YouTube!
Personal telephones were 10 cents a pair back then and who amongst us doesn’t have cell phones today (at maybe 10 cents a minute but that’s progress!)?
That adding machine adds up to 9999 with positive accuracy. Beyond that apparently it’s anybody’s guess. Still, I got my first calculator in my sophomore year of high school 32 years ago now…but 35 years AFTER this ad!
A personal telegraph? Hey, I don’t know about you but I’ve already received three text messages on my cell phone this morning. What’s the difference?
So you see, the folks at the much maligned Johnson Smith seem to have been the grandfathers of today’s greatest achievements! Who knows, maybe REAL X-Ray Spex are just around the corner!
What’s that? Oh, yeah…the mysterious running mouse? The live chameleon? The Mounted Police Suit? Okay, okay, maybe it really was all a bunch of rubbish! Never mind!
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Online comic strips, unlike online columnists, usually aren’t that good. Amateurish is a kind word to describe many of them. An exception to this, introduced to me recently by my son Bookdave, is THE WOTCH. A wotch, as we quickly learn, is a type of witch. In this case, Anne, an ordinary teenage girl based loosely on Willow from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER who is still learning to use her powers. We follow the strip’s joke-a-day format as two high school boys make the acquaintance of the new student, then later meet her big brother (who likes to relax by having Anne turn him into a little girl!) and other students. Then we drift into an actual storyline in which Anne and friends turn into comic book superheroes. A later storyline has Anne having to deal with duplicates of herself, each individual one made up of a single facet of her personality. While all of this is going on, we are subtly introduced to a back-story of a mad villain who will stop at nothing to gain the powers of the wotch!
Begun in 2003 and still being done today (I think. I’m nowhere near up to date with it yet), THE WOTCH is presented in a Sunday strip format with better than expected computer art. The character layouts and expressions give a life to the story that it might not have had otherwise. Rife with pop culture references to comics, video games and television, the dialogue is consistently amusing and well-written and you quickly learn to really like the characters. Go to The Wotch and if you like pop stuff, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll have fun watching THE WOTCH!
Friday, January 12, 2007
That's Quality, the publisher, not "quality" as in "better than those goofy DC sidekicks." I never actually cared for the Human Bomb, a guy who was just generally explosive and wore a type of Haz-Mat suit to fight crime. He was, however, popular enough to run for years in POLICE COMICS (Plastic Man's home turf) back in the early to mid forties. Like DC (which eventually bought the Quality characters), the company had a thing for comic sidekicks, Plas' pal Woozy Winks being actually one of the best. The Bomb, however, had one Hustace Throckmorton, the man with the explosive feet! Like I said, not a big Bomb fan myself. If you're intrigued however, here's a link to the character's Wikipedia entry:Human Bomb - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thursday, January 11, 2007
DC's sister company All-American Comics, run by the legendary Max Gaines and Sheldon Mayer, was the home of the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and many of the other Justice Society characters in the golden age of comics. In 1945, the company put out this huge book (reprinted last year in the DC RARITIES ARCHIVES) called THE BIG ALL-AMERICAN COMIC BOOK and featuring all new stories of many of their characters. Here's a cute and clever house ad that plays with the cut and paste cover of the book itself!
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Surprisingly, my previous looks at photomanipulation have turned out to be some of my most viewed pages. Thus, with little time for anything more substantial this evening, here are three recent shots of my friend Brittany. The images were not originally taken by me but I have tried to give them my own touch. I think she looks like an anime character in the top one! She loves anime! What do you think?
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Pardon the uncharacteristic self-indulgence but as you all know we never throw anything away here at the Library (at least not on purpose). That's what makes this a great place for pop culture. I have comic books from when I was seven years old (the same copies!), movie ads from when I was twelve, autographed pictures I got when I was sixteen, books I got between ages nine and forty-seven, records I bought when I was ten, magazines I bought throughout my teens and movies I've collected throughout my adult life. This being my 48th birthdayI became a bit introspective and wondered where this pack-rat mentality (that my lovely wife indulges) might have begun. Then I saw this picture of myself, taken in 1959, the year of my birth and I knew. I STILL have those shoes. Sigh.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Here’s an African-American hero from Marvel that I’m betting most of you never saw: Joshua! Joshua was a Nelson Mandela type who appeared in Marvel’s 1971 SAVAGE TALES #1. If I’m correct, it’s the only story from that badly distributed first issue (it would be more than a year before the second issue) that has never been reprinted. Sadly, it isn’t any good. It IS, however, fascinating!
Set in Africa during the apartheid years (which were, of course, then current), BLACK BROTHER purports to be a serious look at a black activist attempting to make a difference and running up against unexpected odds on all fronts. Even his wife tries to kill him! He’s not a super hero, just a guy who wants to help. I have no reason to believe that he would have ever become a super hero, either. It’s all rather heavy handed actually. This story predates slightly the blaxploitation era in films of the seventies but that’s what it’s closest to with an air of sex and violence hanging over it.
Roy Thomas in his bio of the author admits that "Sergius O’Shaugnessy" is a pseudonym but does not reveal for whom. It is, of course, now widely known to be a name used by Denny O’Neil when he was working at Charlton prior to moving to DC. This would have been during Denny’s celebrated "relevant" period which brought us the darker BATMAN as well as the fondly recalled (but let’s be honest also pretty heavy-handed) GREEN LANTERN-GREEN ARROW. Perhaps he was not permitted contractually to work for Marvel at the time but couldn’t resist the opportunity for a more adult storyline. Perhaps he simply wanted to disavow the resulting piece. Whatever the reason, he returned to his pseudonym.
The art, on the other hand, is good black and white work from the Marvel dream team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer, then best known for their classic work on DOCTOR STRANGE a couple of years earlier and with TOMB OF DRACULA just coming up. Great stuff from that pair as always!
If BLACK BROTHER was ever reprinted, revived or even finished, I never saw it. When the mag returned later on it was nearly all Conan and Ka-Zar and no more attempts at civil rights dramas.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
I had another request for more stray WONDER WOMAN panels--always a good time there. Here are a couple from SENSATION COMICS stories of the early forties. The sad part is that even in context, they're still more than a little crazy!
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Arguably, my least favorite DC silver-age superhero, HAWKMAN is one that I'm just now getting around to reading in order. I've long since come to a great appreciation for the early Joe Kubert stories with the artist's rapidly maturing style a joy to behold to my aging eyes. At the time, though, I preferred Murphy Anderson's slicker art style. Did you ever wonder, though, where Hawkman and Hawkgirl kept their costumes (Thanagarian police uniforms)? Well, according to this Anderson panel from the first appearance in MYSTERY IN SPACE they took a note from the Flash who kept his wadded up in a tiny ring. In their case, you see, the whole suit--big, bulky helmets and all (not to mention the freakin' wings!!) was squeezed into their li'l hawk medallions. Uh....huh! See for yourself!
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
For my 700th post here at the Library, we offer this early fifties PSA from DC Comics. More often than not, these one page features tended to feature Superman or Superboy but here's one with the Dynamic Duo as drawn (I believe) by Win Mortimer.