Saturday, March 31, 2007

Miniature Dog

This mid-fifties ad just boggles my mind. Let's see if I get this straight--In exchange for you enlarging and badly painting over the top of my favorite photo, I will be expected to talk twenty of my friends into allowing you to do the same and then, in thanks, you will send me a real, live miniature dog in the mail!!?? Uhh...WTF??

Friday, March 30, 2007

Raymond Chandler

Yesterday, I had to sit at the hospital for some hours as my mother-in-law had an operation so I needed a book. I chose this 1976 copy of Raymond Chandler’s 1943 mystery THE LADY IN THE LAKE. Chandler’s still growing literary rep, of course, rests firmly on the broad shoulders of his cynical tough guy detective Phillip Marlowe. The colorful self-narration, the rumpled hat, the rain-swept streets and the world weariness of the main character have all become cliches of the genre but they all pretty much began with Chandler.
Humphrey Bogart, Robert Montgomery, Dick Powell, James Garner and Elliot Gould all played Marlowe in films. Future cartoon Mister Fantastic Gerald Mohr had an admirable run in the role on radio. Robyn Hitchcock even recorded the short song RAYMOND CHANDLER EVENING which had a marvelously creative video in which a hat (as if on an invisible detective) roamed the rainy black and white streets and bridges to the tune. I’ve enjoyed all of these versions over the years.
Yesterday, though, was the first time I had actually READ Chandler and I was quite impressed. His subject matter featured a number of references that would have been considered quite adult in their day—"round heels, " "laying" somebody, etc.—but also told an interesting story with well-delineated characters and an enjoyably descriptive narrative. Somewhere in the vast unread archives (Hey, you know how it is. Sometimes a book catches your eye and you PLAN on reading it but never quite get around to it!) here at the Library, I have a 1980’s British reprint of THE BIG SLEEP. I plan on looking for it this weekend and having another Raymond Chandler evening. If you like detective fiction and you haven’t yet discovered Chandler hit your local used bookstore and you can probably pick up these true classics of the genre for a song!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Watchmen Pins

There wasn't a lot of actual merchandising tie-ins forAlan Moore and Dave Gibbons' WATCHMEN when it originally came out back in the mid eighties. In fact, Moore reportedly nixed the idea of merchandising for the fifteenth anniversary also. There was a role playing game module that gave some unofficial background info on some of the characters and their adventures, a portfolio of foreign covers and promo art and the obvious bloody smiley face button. Perhaps least known was this limited edition numbered set of 4 additional pinback buttons on a nifty illustrated card. I actually left my set (# 8361 of who remembers how many) sealed so the card has warped a tad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Superman For Peace

Here's one that could only have come out in the seventies. The Man of Steel flashes the omnipresent peace sign in a lovely poster by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. What really strikes me as odd, however, is the added bonus of the "Right on target" a literal target of Supes, with peace sign once again, apparently designed to be attcked anyway by darts, bb's or Howitzer shells. So much for "Give peace a chance," y'know?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Unpublished Amazing Heroes Cartoon

This unpublished cartoon by myself was intended for an issue of AMAZING HEROES in the mid 1980's. As I recall, a previous issue had listed upcoming comics including some comic strip reprints from Blackthorne such as DICK TRACY Book 6, BETTY BOOP Book 3 and the erroneously advertised KERRY DRAKE BOOP Book 3. The latter obvious blooper made me laugh like crazy so I took pen in hand and drew up this mock cover of what KERRY DRAKE BOOP might look like. AMAZING HEROES was apparently not amused. So now, for all to see for the first time ever, is that piece. It would be another seventy or so issues before I would make my actual AH debut.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Okay, here's one that even I've never heard of as far as I can recall. Hingees. What in the world were Hingees? This mid-1940's ad makes them look and sound like pop-up books mixed with comic books. Pop-up Comics! Wow! Wait'll Bill Black hears about THAT idea!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


ROWAN AND MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN was a show that I have to say I never truly "grokked." I watched it fairly often as a child because it was the hip thing to do but it always left a kind of a bad taste in my mouth afterwards. It wasn’t dirty—not even in a BENNY HILL way—but it SEEMED dirty which was almost worse. "Sock it to me?" What the hell was that all about? Sock what? "Sock" sounds like "suck" which is dirty isn’t it? Wasn’t it? Was it?? And I would never in a million years bet my sweet bippy!!!!
Anyway, what I did like was the ensemble cast. I never quite understood why all of these hip, mini-skirted babes and nehru jacketed guys were hanging around with two lounge comics like Rowan and Martin though. Arte Johnson was my favorite and in a perfect world this multi-talented comic actor would have been a big star. Deadpan Henry Gibson actually almost became one with Robert Altman’s NASHVILLE where he proved to be a versatile actor. Judy Carne’s English accent alone made her cool during the British Invasion era and her willingness to do anything for a laugh helped. Joanne Worley just seemed like a nice, funny lady who dressed strangely—a lot like some of my mom’s friends. Ruth Buzzi—Ah, Ruthie! She may have been the ultimate TV plain Jane but she was a comic gem! Loved her on this and everything from THAT GIRL to SESAME STREET! Gary Owens, already recognizable as the voice of SPACE GHOST, was fun to just listen to and Alan Sues just seemed a tad perverted no matter what he did which I guess was supposed to be amusing.
Then, of course, there was Goldie Hawn. Goldie was a bit skinny and waifish looking on LAUGH-IN but had an absolutely priceless giggle. The only time we really see this Goldie in movies is in her first co-starring vehicle, CACTUS FLOWER. From THERE’S A GIRL IN MY SOUP and BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE through the wonderful FOUL PLAY and the more recent BANGER SISTERS, Goldie matures into a marvelous free-spirited comic and dramatic actress right before our eyes.

The editor was the real star of LAUGH-IN with cameos and brief cuts abundant throughout. Unlikely folks such as John Wayne, Tiny Tim and Richard Nixon of all people made their marks in TV history on LAUGH-IN. Ringmasters Rowan and Martin were okay. Certainly they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Over the years since Dan’s death, I have developed a much greater respect for Dick Martin as a comedy writer and a master of comic timing.

Whatever made the whole mix work was missing when Producer George Schlatter attempted a revival less than a decade later with an all new ensemble cast out of which all I can even recall is a pre-Mork Robin Williams and a promising but now forgotten comic named Lennie Schultz. Love it or hate it, LAUGH-IN was of its time and even attempted (edited) reruns seem horribly dated. You bet your sweet…nope. Still can’t say that.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

We're Not Gonna Take It

Just a cool out of context panel I scanned awhile back from some already misplaced forties comics story. The interesting thing is that, as a child, my cousin Toni nicknamed ME "picklepuss!"

Friday, March 23, 2007

Twin Detectives/Future Cop

After watching Elizabeth Montgomery's 1974 MRS. SUNDANCE TV-movie last week and realizing, perhaps for the first time that it was a pilot film, it occurred to me that probably all of those Movies of the Week back in the seventies were pilots! That was certainly the case when it came to this particular May 1976 double feature.

TWIN DETECTIVES starred country singer twins Jon and Jim Hager as...wait for it...twin detectives! That was pretty much all this one had going for it other than a nice appearance by legendary Lillian Gish in the guest cast. The Hagers were quite entertaining on HEE HAW where they ended up after its star Buck Owens discovered them working at Disneyland. They were engaging, funny and quite talented musically. Sort of like if there had been only two Hudson Brothers. In fact, according to The Hager Twins Official Website , they still fit that bill. I haven't seen them anywhere in at least 25 years but if you get the chance, take it. I'm betting they're still better entertainers than they were detectives.

FUTURE COP on the other hand starred Ernest Borgnine and Michael Shannon and went through two pilot movies before eventually actually becoming a short-lived series. The plot has echoes of the later ROBOCOP as veteran police officer Borgnine is teamed with a billion dollar android/robot officer. As I recall Shannon's Haven was soft-spoken in the manner of STAR TREK's Data and came to think of the ever-irascible Borgnine as a father figure. Clearly influenced by the Bionic Heroes in vogue at the time, the light-hearted dramady had a unique feel that didn't really catch on in spite of the obvious effort everyone put into it. Borgnine of course continued his long and varied career. Michael Shannon has continued on as a working actor ever since with perhaps his most surprising role being as JFK in an episode of the UK series RED DWARF. In part, it's an uncharacteristically somber episode of that silly series as Lister and crew screw up history by accidentally preventing the Kennedy assassination. Shannon brings a poignant dignity to the role of the President as he is told how important his death is to the development of future generations and agrees to help set things back on the right path.

Haven't seen either of these things since their original airing. Like most pilots they just fade away.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

RC Cola

Y'know, a little reported problem with living in the past as we tend to do around here at the library is the commercials. For example, last summer when I was going through almost daily episodes of THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE, I found myself buying Parkay, one of Gildy's Kraft sponsers, for the very first time. This past week, after a steady diet of reading the ads in golden age comics, I actually bought an RC Cola for the first time since...oh, I don't know, 1969 maybe? RC was my mother's favorite soft drink so it was usually around the house as I was growing up but I only tended to drink it when we were out of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. "The real thing" was my favorite and my Dad hit the spot with Pepsi. Anyway, the adventures of RC and Quickie were a regular ad fetaure in mid-forties comics. Often better drawn than the comics they were in, here's one that features a testimonial from The Cisco Kid himself, Duncan Renaldo! Back when I last drank the stuff, their TV ads were describing it as "Royal Crown Cola. It's the mad, mad, mad mad cola! RC! The one with the mad, mad taste!" Well, I'm not really mad...but I still didn't care for it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Jack Cole

The recent suicides of Brad Delp and Richard Jeni have gotten me thinking about Jack Cole. To say that Cole was successful in his chosen field as an artist would seem to be putting it mildly. In the early forties, Jack Cole drew Lev Gleason’s DAREDEVIL strip and ghosted Will Eisner’s SPIRIT when Eisner was in the Army. Soon afterwards, he created one of the truly unique comics characters, PLASTIC MAN which he wrote and drew for some years. At the same time, his MIDNIGHT, a SPIRIT knock-off, became a staple of SMASH COMICS. Along the way, he turned out hilarious filler comic book stories as well as pioneering tough, violent crime comics. In the 1950’s, leaving PLASTIC MAN to others, Cole became the first superstar cartoonist at PLAYBOY. Later in the decade, using a totally new style, he created BETSY AND ME, the syndicated comic strip of which he’d long dreamed having. Then, in 1958, Cole committed suicide for reasons never made public.

In spite of the fact that he never worked for "the big two," Marvel and DC, Cole’s comics work slowly began to be reprinted in the early sixties. After DC bought PLASTIC MAN, they even devoted a full DC SPECIAL to his classic comedy in the early seventies. By 1986, Fantagraphics published FOCUS ON JACK COLE, a Ron Goulart biography/history that featured lots of black and white reproductions of the artist’s work as well as a full checklist.
In 2001, Pulitzer Prize winner Art Spiegelman and the ever-creative Chip Kidd put out a still in print plastic-covered mainstream bio entitled JACK COLE AND PLASTIC MAN-FORMS STRETCHED TO THEIR LIMITS. With its innovative layouts and splendidly faded reproduction from the original comics, this is a truly beautiful book and a fitting tribute to the lost genius of Jack Cole.

Suicide never makes sense. That’s the lesson we should take away from these tragic deaths. When someone is depressed, stressed or feeling lost, take them seriously. Listen to them. Sometimes just telling someone makes things better. Cole seems to have given no indication of any problems but maybe he did if people were paying attention. Jack Cole went into the Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1999. It would have been nice if he could have been there.
By the way, I apologize for breaking my 15 month streak of daily posts by missing yesterday. Been dealing with a lot of stress myself.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I saw a picture of Jon Provost at an autograph show last week and was reminded that at one point LASSIE was my favorite TV show when I was a child and this book was my favorite book! Maybe it was because our downstairs neighbors had a collie. I don’t know. I probably got the book used as it was the first LASSIE Golden Book from 1956 and I would have had it circa 1961. On the other hand, since the boy in the story is named "Tim" and yet looks more like "Jeff," the dog’s original TV owner, it’s entirely possible that this is a re-issue with names changed to reflect the changes that occurred on the show in 1957.
LASSIE, in case you didn’t know, was the perennial story of a boy and his dog. It began on CBS in 1954 after a successful run for the old girl (always played by a male dog because they looked better!) in MGM features. Lassie was a wonder collie. She could literally do anything and was often parodied on other shows for her seeming feats of amazement such as pulling people out of wells.
I spoke with June Lockhart (who played Timmy’s mother) on the telephone one time in the early 1980’s and I’m sad to say that all we talked about was LOST IN SPACE and I never told her what a big LASSIE fan I had been! Around that same time, though, I started calling one of those 1-800 Trivia contest lines. Answer seven questions at $1.00 per minute and you could win $100.00. The first six were inevitably easy but were padded out with "Wow! You sound like an expert at this type of thing!" comments in order to cost you more cash. The final question was meant to be hard. When I called, though, the final question was "What are the last two digits of the last year that LASSIE appeared on network television?" HAH! I knew that! I typed in "74" and won 100 bucks! Feeling cocky (as they undoubtedly hoped) I called again soon after wards and proceeded as quickly as allowed through the first six questions only to have the automated question machine hand me the EXACT SAME QUESTION ABOUT LASSIE!!! Thus, the old girl won me ANOTHER $100.00!
Played by many gorgeous dogs over the years, LASSIE ran for twenty years on the network followed by several more in syndication and at least one revival and a new feature film in the eighties!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

100 Magnets Ad

Now here's a true classic. This ad for 100 magnets ran in DC comics of the sixties. The art is by Ross Andru (and his longtime inker Mike Esposito probably). Like the toy soldiers, the atomic submarine and the daisy air rifles, I never GOT any of these magnets, mind you, but the mere sight of the ad triggers nostalgia.

When Marlo Met Jenny

We all know I’m a big fan of THAT GIRL and Marlo Thomas. In 1970, however, my parents decided that, at 11, I was too young to see Marlo’s debut movie, JENNY, shot while THAT GIRL was still in production. When I finally saw it on television a few years later (after co-star Alan Alda had shot to stardom on M*A*S*H) I was quite disappointed. Set in New York City, JENNY is a slow-moving tale of a pregnant young woman who moves in with a young filmmaker who was a friend of the upcoming baby’s father. Hilarity does NOT ensue. Treated seriously, this attempt at recasting Marlo in a non-humorous role doesn’t really work because the material is so slight. Her strengths are downplayed and her style is so deadened here (so she doesn’t make the audience think of Ann Marie ) that the charismatic Alda walks away with the film. If you’re a fan of either star (or any of the interesting co-stars including Stephen-Mister Terrific-Strimpell or Charlotte-Mrs. Garrett-Rae)then by all means give this one a look but don’t be surprised if you find yourselves fast-forwarding through sections when you’re awake.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Superman in New Jersey

I don't know what kind of deal Palisades Park had with Superman and DC but for years the New Jersey amusement park used the Man of Steel in its ads in comics. Here's an early full page one that plugged a visiting circus also! The ads continued through the sixties.

For Sale

I don't normally share my own troubles here. It's not that kind of blog. My financial difficulties, however, have reached a really bad point. As such, I'm going to remind folks yet again about the Paypal tip box on the main page. I am also, though, going to offer up items that we have covered here at BOOKSTEVE'S LIBRARY over the past couple of years to anyone interested. That's right, look back over my 750 plus posts and if you see anything you want, make me an email offer to and I'll get back to you. Please note that some things are already gone, others were borrowed and thus not mine to sell, and a few things I'm just hanging on to no matter what. Also, none of the comics, please. Sigh.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bob Hope Meets Aquaman

Perhaps not the most unlikely cameo of all time (I reserve that honor for Mikhail Gorbachav in the movie FAR AWAY SO CLOSE) but here we have the King of the Seas in a throwaway appearance in a mid-sixties issue of THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE. I remember stumbling on this as a back issue circa 1970 and loving the in-jokiness. Aquaman appeared in that issue courtesy of the just passed Arnold Drake and the recently deceased Bob Oksner. We here at the Library never met them but we miss 'em both and will continue to celebrate their works.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Lie Detectors

Here’s a new book that might be of some peripheral interest to comics fans. THE LIE DETECTORS presents a history of man’s quest to find ways to get folks to tell the truth. As you might surmise, at the center of this story is the polygraph and as such, a lot of space is devoted to that much maligned device’s ostensible creator, William Marston. As comics fans will no doubt recall, Marston—under the pseudonym Charles Moulton—created and wrote WONDER WOMAN during that strip’s kinkier years.
THE LIE DETECTORS presents Marston’s history as a pop psychologist, his studies of sorority hazings, his self promotion, his bizarre neo-feminist theories of submission and dominance, his unusual polyamorous personal life and the impact of all of these things on his creation of WONDER WOMAN.
The amazing Amazon gets several pages and a picture all to herself with only one glaring error (you ever notice the mainstream always makes ONE error!??). That comes when they say that WW was admitted to the Justice LEAGUE of America as their secretary when, of course, it was the JSA, not the JLA. Even Dr. Wertham’s complaints about the strip (in spite of the fact that they appeared after Marston’s death in 1947) are trotted out yet again. Overall some fascinating background on one of the most controversial comic book creators of them all. Oh and the rest of the book is kind of interesting, too…if you like this sort of thing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Overwriting Justice

Exposition at its finest from the 1967 version of MISTER JUSTICE, the MLJ/Archie/Mighty Comics version of DC's SPECTRE. Dialogue by SPECTRE creator (amongst other well-known characters) Jerry Siegel.

Screen Test

Speaking of clowns (as we were a couple days ago) here’s one I actually knew. This is Flippo the Clown, a truly legendary childrens’ show host in the Columbus, Ohio area. Problem is…I was never IN that particular area. No, I knew Flippo when he was brought out of retirement in the late 1970's for QUBE, Warner-Amex Cable’s experimental interactive television system. QUBE presented a number of shows that were available throughout the Ohio Valley and portions of the Midwest with the notable exception of where I live in Northern Kentucky. Flippo hosted two of these unusual shows including FLIPPO’S SCREEN TEST, a movie/TV trivia game show where the home viewers played along and split the prizes. The more home viewers who got a correct answer, the less points the question was worth. It was worth more points if fewer viewers got it right.
I became involve when Larry Ashcraft, host of a radio Trivia show I had guested on at the now-fabled WVXU-FM in Cincinnati gave my name to the producers when they called looking for a possible good contestant to go up against a local theater owner with a reputation for knowing EVERTYTHING about movie trivia.
In August of 1981, having never seen a single episode of this game show, my male childhood friend Terry drove me to the studio. In the green room, I met Michael Schlesinger, my opponent. His female friend similarly named Terri had come to see him play. My friend Michelle was at her home taping the episode for posterity.
SCREEN TEST aired live so it was a bit of a problem when they had a partial electrical failure just as the show was coming on. Flippo came out (in retrospect vaguely reminding me now of Krusty!) and stalled for nearly ten minutes before things were ready to go, trotting out his time-honored skills from doing live children’s TV. There I was though, all of 23 years old in a black and brown silk shirt with lots of fluffy hair. I’m seen licking my lips constantly as they had dried out due to nervousness (in future episodes, I kept chapstick handy for when the camera’s red light blinked off).
It was a tough game and a close game but eventually, I lost. Michael deservedly won but I somehow convinced him that the winner buys so after the show, he and his Terri and myself went out. My Terry had to beg off. This was the beginning of a long friendship as I rarely saw "my" Terry again and Terri went on to become my best adult friend and later best "man" at my wedding.
Turns out Michael was moving to LA that following week to become a screenwriter so the producers of FLIPPO’S SCREEN TEST (one of whom was George Clooney’s mom!) asked me (as the 2nd highest scorer of the season) to return for the season ending playoffs.
In between, they asked me to send them some good contestants so I did, three of which actually appeared. They even had me write some questions for a few episodes! Had to quit that by the time the play-offs started, though. After three more episodes that I unfortunately never got on tape (Hey! Anybody out there in Ohio tape these things??) I lost out to a question about Julie Newmar’s MY LIVING DOLL series. One of the guys I suggested for the show went on to win the championships, however and split his prize with me, thus getting me my very first video game console—an Atari 2600!
The following year, they had lost Flippo and the show was now being hosted by Bill Myers, a local TV announcer whose daughter Michelle had taped that first episode for me. They called me and asked if I might consider growing a beard and dressing differently so people wouldn’t realize I’d been on the show previously and take another run at it. I agreed. This time, bearded and wearing a new blue suit, I appeared again, horribly defeating my opponent. Michelle taped it for me again (but again only the first episode! Argh!) Eventually, after about four more episodes, I won the season’s championship and an all expenses paid trip to Colonial Williamsburg. The series was cancelled immediately after that leaving me the undefeated SCREEN TEST champion!
Where are they now?
Bill Myers is still announcing on local radio and attended an autographing at my bookstore in 2003.
His daughter Michelle married soon afterwards and her husband came into my store just last week but had no memory of me at all!
Nina Clooney and husband Nick (George’s parents)also came into my store recently and we spoke fondly of those game show days.
Michael Schlesinger became a successful Hollywood Executive (perhaps best known for the American translation and edit of GODZILLA 2000 for which he provides the commentary on the DVD)
He and Terri have remained long-distance friends ever since and coincidentally enough, both Terri and Michael (pictured here) are scheduled to meet me later today during a brief stopover in Cincy on the way to New York. It will be the first time I’ve seen Michael in about fifteen years!

Flippo the Clown was hired by QUBE because of his 95% recognizability factor in Central Ohio. Strange then, that I didn't recognize hima t all and yet he became the only real clown I ever actually knew. Flippo died last summer but is celebrated on the Internet at Flippo, The King of Clowns.

Seriously, if anyone has any other episodes of SCREEN TEST on which I appeared, I'd love to get copies. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dr. Will Magnus On Space Travel

Been reading some early METAL MEN recently (always a favorite!) and was surprised to see that that clanky band's creator, "Doc" Magnus, had actually perfected a little-heralded and little-known form of space travel! Here we see how easy his (patent pending) method gets him to the moon more than half a decade before the Apollo astronauts! Interesting to note that Julie Schwartz was encouraging Gardner Fox and John Broome to use real science in their comics but METAL MEN writer Bob Kanigher seemed to have no problem whatsoever in just making it up as he went along. By the way, to the best of my knowledge, the "thought force X" power was never mentioned again...probably because they never needed a convenient plot device to get them to the frickin' moon!

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Circus Came to Town

I am not a circus person. Not big on clowns or elephants or cotton candy or trapeze artists or any of that circusy stuff. In fact, after my first visit to a circus some 42 years ago with my Kindergarten class, it would be decades before seeing another in 1990 and then another in 2001. They really weren’t that memorable either. Then finally, yesterday, at the (often) convincing urging of friend Kim, I decided to forget my growing financial issues for an afternoon, celebrate my recent promotion and take the wife, the boy and Kim to the Circus! And I liked it!
The weird part for me is that it was at the Cincinnati Gardens, the exact same venue where I had seen my very first circus back in 1965! This time, I was even more impressed when I realized that the Beatles had appeared there in ’64!
There were smiling and dancing elephants, a ten year old girl who flew through the air, motorcycle stunt riders, beautiful horses, a clown selling invisible balloons in the stands, sleek tigers and a human cannonball. In fact, I envisioned the Cannonball guy sleeping til mid-afternoon, coming out, checking the net, being fired into the net, collecting a check for a couple thou and then heading out to catch a movie. Must be nice.
Anyway, a check of Yahoo shows that this particular circus has been regularly cited for its mistreatment of animals. I believe Ringling Brothers has, too. I hope the charges are exaggerated or at least in the past because what I saw yesterday was the sheer magical delight on the faces of several thousand children --of all ages as they say--including my lovely wife, my precious Bookdave, my sweet friend Kim and yes, myself. I even had some cotton candy!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mine Was a Nielsen Family

In radio it was the Hooper Rating that everyone cared about but in the television age, it became the Nielsen Ratings. If your Nielsens were high, you ran for ages! HAWAII 5-O for instance must have had HUGE Nielsens! Hmm...that sounds wrong. Still, the Nielsen company would choose households at random and send them boxes to attach to their televisions that indicated what was being watched at all times. Other households would recieve diaries in which we had to document our viewing (and NON-viewing) habits for a week or more. In the seventies, my family became one of the latter. We were a Nielsen family! After talking my dad out of faking information so he could plug programs that were't even on any more but that he wanted back, he, my mother and myself all duly noted our daily TV time and thus undoubtedly saved THE PRICE IS RIGHT! Here's the little FAQ flyer that the Nielsen family sent out with the diaries. Note the vaguely familiar (or just very bad?) TV character caricatures. Are those Bradys or Partridges? Do I see Laura Petrie? Reta Shaw!!?? The plumpish lady on the right sure looks like the housekeeper from THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR to me but why we she be considered a logical TV face for this thing?

Anyway, after we returned the diaries we were sent a nice crisp $1.00 bill as a token for our troubles. About 15 years later, my family was once again chosen to fill out the diaries and once again recieved a crisp new $1.00 bill. (Haven't these people ever heard of inflation?) I have to wonder how, though, in these heady days of fast click channel surfing, anyone can possibly tell who's actually watching anything anymore!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Captain America Propaganda

Marvel (Timely) had it both ways with Cap back in the forties. On the one hand, he was being patriotic. On the other, he was building a mailing list for the company with the Sentinals of Liberty!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Fire and Water-1942

Been dealing with my grief over Cap's passing (SNIFF!) by reading and re-reading archival adventures of the Star-Spangled Sentinel of Liberty when I came across these two little-seen ads for THE HUMAN TORCH and THE SUB-MARINER and I thought I'd share (as I often do!).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Rip Hunter, Time Master

Here's a comic book that I somehow missed entirely in my youth. True, the last of it's 29 issues (not counting 4 earlier SHOWCASE tryouts) came out just before I started collecting comics but I never even ran across back issues in the dingy corners of the junk shops, carryouts and second hand stores that recycled old comics for a nickel. The character has been revived in recent years but like many, retconned almost beyond recognition.

RIP HUNTER, TIME MASTER was originally Flash Gordon crossed with Doctor Who...only five years before the Doctor even came along in the UK. In his time sphere, he and his companions would adventure across time with aliens, presidents, dinosaurs, crusaders and mythological beasties. A few of the earlier issues featured nifty art by Alex Toth, Nick Cardy, the Andru/Esposito team and the already legendary Joe Kubert. For the most part, though, Rip ripped along with servicable, nondescript art by the little-remembered Bill Ely. Scripts, provided mostly by Jack Miller and George Kashdan, took themselves a tad too seriously to be fun. Still, can't help but wonder if the BBC's long-running time traveller was at least slightly influenced by Rip's six years of DC adventures.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Quote From Marvel's President

Proving that some people JUST DON'T GET IT!!!!!!!!

"This is the end of Steve Rogers, the meat and potatoes guy from 1941," Dan Buckley, president and publisher of publishing, Marvel Entertainment, told Reuters."But Captain America is a costume, and there are other people who could take it over. He is iconic, and we're continuing the comic books," he added. But he declined to speculate who could step into the hero's 66-year-old boots.

Captain America Lives!

So my old friend Dan Hughes sends me this link today(Spoiler Alert):Shocking event for Captain America - Captain America is Dead. Yeah, right! Bucky was dead, too…for 60 years! In fact, the phrase, "Bucky Dead" came to symbolize someone in the Marvel Universe who was not ever coming back. Not nohow, no way! Being Bucky Dead was the equivalent of having the dead parrot sketch read at your funeral. You had "joined the choir invisible" as it were. Still, a talented writer named Ed Brubaker found a way to bring Bucky back…this time for real. So what does "Bucky Dead" mean now? Is Cap "Bucky Dead?"

It would be easy to write this all off as yet another attempt at getting some mainstream publicity via a cheap marketing ploy. You could even say that it plays into what I believe is a still-ongoing rights dispute with Cap’s original creator, Joe Simon. The fact of the matter is, however, that World War II is getting further and further back and Cap’s revival by the Avengers (after being frozen in ice) is getting more and more recent! Look, I absotively guarantee you that Marvel is NOT permanently killing off Captain America. As a licensing property alone the character is worth no small fortune to the company. That doesn’t, however, mean that they have to keep Steve Rogers as Cap. Steve Rogers has never been an easy character to write, In fact, even the best writers chose to define him simply as "the man who became Captain America." As a man out of his time, he is anachronistic and hopelessly old-fashioned. Anyone can wear the Cap suit. The Punisher, maybe? US Agent…again?? That’s probably the route they’ll take.
What Marvel sometimes seems to forget is that in the Marvel Universe Captain America represents not a government or its military but a timeless ideal. In real life, the character has come to mean the same thing. He doesn’t stand for the flag but for what the flag truly means—freedom, hope, safety, security and the dreams of a better world. What they’ve definitely forgotten on the corporate level is that that’s what the character has come to represent in our real world, also. Steve Rogers IS Captain America! It's not the suit, the shield, the super-soldier formula or the Red Skull or the snakes or the Falcon or anything else that make him Cap. He just IS Cap.
Captain America may be gone for now…for awhile…but Cap and what he stands for endures and I have every faith that the one, true Captain America will return yet again. As his creator, Joe Simon, said so accurately in the CNN piece, "We really need him now ."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Namor's Secret Identity

Our Net friend Kevin recently ran a surprising shot of Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner wearing a costume from the early 1940's at BeaucoupKevin(dot)com. BlogMachineGo. This, of course, was a revelation that we ourselves had run across some time back. To be precise, here:

Now, today, we reveal the Prince nattily attired for a weekend in the country with his police officer girlfriend, Betty Dean. Not really a "secret" identity but he's definitely attempting to pass. In fact, he wears the clothes through much of this story (from HUMAN TORCH # 9) which is a landlocked haunted house story!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Mad Poster

Came across this ad from MAD # 27 just a day after posting the SCOPE with Alfred on the cover. Here the EC gang was offering a framable picture of the still nameless "What? Me Worry?" boy by mailorder. Interesting how much and yet how little the character's look progressed in the intervening decade and a half plus.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Scope Visits Mad

This one hasn’t survived the ravages of time in very good condition but this April 1973 issue of SCHOLASTIC SCOPE was the first time I really got to know anything about the folks behind MAD Magazine. I probably saw my first issue of MAD around 1965 (it was at my friend Greg’s house down the street) but I never really read it regularly as it somehow seemed for older kids. Around 1969, I did discover the paperback of THE MAD READER and was introduced to Harvey Kurtzman’s earlier MAD COMICS stories but that’s a whole different kettle of worms (or is that can of fish?). BY ’73, though, I had become familiar with and intrigued by MAD and here was this great article right in my classroom. Come to think of it, didn’t kids get in trouble for reading MAD in class? Now here SCOPE was telling us it was okay! These may well be the first pictures of Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein that I ever saw. The article was like a walk through the offices with quotes from Meglin, DeFuccio and Len Brenner along with the first two of a gazillion Sergio Aragones anecdotes I would hear over the years. It even touched briefly on EC and the horror comics scandal, a subject that would later form the basis of my senior class thesis just a few years later.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Spectre Interviews Neal Adams

From the second issue of the ghostly guardian's own mag in the swingin' sixties, here's a fun, informative one page interview with the comic's then-new artist as supposedly conducted by the comic's star himself.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Strange Adventures Ad

Here's a nifty looking early ad for Julius Schwartz's STRANGE ADVENTURES (issue # 2 to be exact!). Note the rare use of author credits on the cover. Gardner Fox, of course, was a DC mainstay for decades as well as a sci-fi writer (and a western writer and a romance writer and...). Edmond Hamilton was a longtime sci-fi writer who would later create the Legion of Super-Heroes. Although not as well-known, David V. Reed was still writing Superman stories for DC in the seventies. Virgil Finlay was a truly legendary pulp illustrator. Not sure who the other gentleman is/was. Anyone? Note also the foreshadowing in the ad line "You'll thrill to the challenge of the unknown."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dan O'Neill and Odd Bodkins

I almost hesitate to mention Dan O’Neill because his story deserves much more time than I intend to give it here today. He’s been on my mind lately, however, as I read through some early underground comics. Undergrounds as we know them (or DID as the distinction really doesn’t exist anymore) appeared in the late sixties and flourished through the early seventies serving as a showcase for the countercultural artistic/political/psychosexual talents of scores of young illustrators including Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Justin Green, Gilbert Shelton and Bill Griffith. The thing is, though, that Dan O’Neill was there when they got there. In fact, his deceptively simplistic ODD BODKINS strip had been around since the early sixties. The collection seen here is from early 1965!

In the tradition of POGO, ODD BODKINS features cute little characters in gag-a-day strips that slowly and not always subtly begin to make political statements and/or social commentary. This, of course, got the artist some flack and he eventually went underground taking his strip with him. All of that was overshadowed eventually by his participation in the so-called Air Pirates, the loose knit group of UG creators who published several issues of Disney parodies that were amazing but…according to Disney lawyers…too close for comfort. The case became a cause celebre and dragged on for ages in the courts. There have been in-depth books and articles and websites on the whole mess but let’s just say that O’Neill held his ground and he and his career had to pay the consequences for it.
In the eighties Dan himself (or someone claiming to be him. For some reason I’ve never been certain) sold me a copy of the banned AIR PIRATES FUNNIES # 1 for only 50 cents at a San Diego Con. Dan O’Neill (looks like the same guy to me) appears in the 1988 feature documentary COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL playing pool with some scantily clad women for no apparent reason. He is STILL doing ODD BODKINS to this day as well as marketing merchandise related to the strip. His site at Dan O'Neill Comics Original Odd Bodkins and Comic Book Art Paranoia is the fear of unreal weirdos.Who has time for that,when ...doesn’t seem to be kept up but here ‘tis anyway along with a quick but somewhat more in-depth look at the Air Pirates case: Disney vs the Air Pirates. Whatever else you want to say, the man was a pioneer.