Sunday, September 30, 2007


Hmmm...Maybe I should start a new series called "Badly Costumed Heroes" because here's yet another one. This one's called BOOMERANG and comes from TERRIFIC COMICS (which was a bit of a misnomer). While admiring his sartorial splendor, note also his sidekick, the fearsomely named...DIANA! Why do I suspect that ol' Mister Boomerang designed her costume for her? "Come on, honey. It's hep! It's stylish! Having so little of your flesh covered will HELP us in our crimefighting by distracting the enemy and so what if it's a little tight in the rear? It looks good on you! Heh, heh, heh!" Of course, one look at him should have told her that this guy's no Mister Blackwell either!

V For Vendetta

Finally got around to seeing V FOR VENDETTA yesterday and I was quite impressed. I followed the original Alan Moore/David Lloyd comic series in the late, lamented UK magazine WARRIOR as it originally came out in the eighties and for the most part enjoyed it. I must admit that I felt it bogged down quite a bit in the middle and the later DC ending was a bit of a disappointment. One little-remembered aspect of the original was the rampant fan speculation that V would be revealed to be MARVELMAN! Since Alan Moore was busy rewriting comics history elsewhere in WARRIOR with that now-controversial series it almost made sense! Surely he would eventually tie the two series together! While that was probably, in retrospect, never to be his intent, the very possibility was derailed when Marvel comics began complaints about MARVELMAN just because of the title. The immensely popular strip was eventually dropped from the lineup and left to be continued later in the US as MIRACLEMAN. Meanwhile V FOR VENDETTA continued. I began to think of it as similar to Moore's take on Marvel's NIGHT RAVEN (also drawn by David Lloyd) via THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO and THE SHADOW.

When it comes to the film, I thought they did an excellent job of translating the strip, streamlining some of the slower moments and emphasizing that Evie is the hero--not V, a fact that was often obscured in the originals. Alan Moore, as is his nature, refused to allow his name on the film. More incredulously, no one in the Making Of documentary seems able to mention Moore's contribution, either. IT's as if Lloyd, who DOES appear, just spontaneously illustrated the story with no writer involved at all. Alan (May I call you Alan?), as a creative artist, I very much understand your desire to distance yourself from other media interpretations of your work but to leave your name completely out when discussing the genesis of the project seems akin to rewriting history...much like they attempt to do in the story itself.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rick O' Shay

I believe I've written about RICK O'SHAY before but the 1996 book seen here is new to the Library this week. Stan Lynde did this comic strip for several decades before switching to the more serious LATIGO and writing a couple western novels. Beginning in 1958, Rick O'Shay stumbled on a stranded gambler named "Deuces" Wilde and then the pair stumbled on a ghost town where they decided to settle. As the town grew up again, the readers learned that this was not, in fact, the old west but a sort of left behind corner of the modern world. Soon enough, "Hipshot" Percussion, the oh-s0-cool gunfighter with the heart of gold (picture Fonzie as a cowboy with a string mustache) joins the cast and almost steals the show. Early stories went back and forth between semi-realistic western melodrama and pop culture parodies such as the one in this volume featuring Dr. Franklinstine's robot. Made up of leftover television parts, the robot spoke in then-topical (and now horribly dated) TV commercial catch phrases. Over the years, Stan added assistants and the art style became much more realistic. The modern elements mostly faded and RICK O' SHAY became one of the last of the great cowboy strips, continuing long past the heyday of the TV westerns that spawned it.

In the 1990's Lynde began reprinting the series. I'm not certain how many volumes eventually came out but they're all choice examples of a comic strip done right. I got this one at a Borders yesterday. You probably won't find these on a shelf in your neck of the woods but obviously your local bookstore can get this and other volumes for you. I'd have them do it right away if you're a western fan or just a fan of classic sixties comic strips!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Merv Griffin's Book of People

A bit late but I wanted to note the recent passing of Merv Griffin. Because of his later success in game show creation, Merv’s long stint as a talk show host seems almost forgotten but he was one of the best. Originally with haughty actor Arthur Treacher (later of fish and chips fame) as his Ed McMahon-style sidekick, Griffin pioneered a lighter style than Johnny Carson that would eventually lead to a feeling that one was just sitting in on some folks talking. His comfortable style even got favorite guest Orson Welles to make up on TV with his long estranged partner John Houseman in one memorable episode! The book seen here, FROM WHERE I SIT, is one of several books by Merv Griffin but this one is made up of reminiscences of some of those pleasant interviews. Orson is here but you’ll also find Jack Benny, Alfred Hitchcock, Jack Warner, Henry, Peter and Jane Fonda, Henry Kissinger, Burt Reynolds and Richard Burton. If you only know Merv Griffin from the fact that he brought the world JEAPORDY and WHEEL OF FORTUNE, go to a used bookstore and look for FROM WHERE I SIT-MERV GRIFFIN’S BOOK OF PEOPLE and settle in for a treat.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Get Crazy

1983’s GET CRAZY was, in a very real sense, the follow-up to the great ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (as opposed to that too little, too late ROCK "N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL FOREVER with Corey Feldman). It may look like a Roger Corman film but actually the Executive Producer was Herbert F. Solow, one of the men who brought us the original STAR TREK! ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL’s director, however, carries over and brings his unique style of hip, in-joke comedy to the fore. Now the darling of NBC’s HEROES, director Allan Arkush does a great job here on an obviously low budget, most of which probably went to pay for top-billed Malcolm McDowell. The ensemble cast is led by Daniel (HOME ALONE) Stern as the everyman hero and Gail (IT’S A LIVING) Edwards as his female counterpart. The great character actor Alan Garfield (here in his Goorwitz phase) appears as a Bill Graham type. Ed Begley (when is he old enough to drop the "junior?") is surprisingly slimy as the villain with former pop idols Bobby Sherman and Fabian hilariously cast as his fawning assistants! Throw in the Turtles’ Howard Kaylan looking like Mike Love in his guru period, the Doors’ John Densmore, Lou Reed amazingly fun as a Dylanesque folkie, the wonderful Bill Henderson (my favorite performance here!) and Malcolm McDowell’s conversation with his own penis and you have a winner! I was going to write a basic plot synopsis but in looking up production details, I note that someone named "Dudeness" has a lengthy and detailed one on IMDB so I refer you to his Get Crazy (1983) - Synopsis for more on this wacky picture.
Not a forgotten film but it wasn’t a hit and is not always the easiest to find. I actually had never heard of it at all until a former employee of mine told me about it and then later gifted me with her own pre-viewed VHS copy circa 1989. There’s some pro-drug humor in the FREAK BROTHERS style and anarchistic views but at it’s heart it’s an old-fashioned "Hey, let’s put on a show and save the old theater!" plot! Find it, watch it, laugh at it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 11

I know , I know. It's kind of cheating to find a random panel of weirdness in a golden age WONDER WOMAN story 'cause they're everywhere! Still, this COMIC CAVALCADE panel was too good NOT to present here out of context. Make up your own jokes, folks!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bob Hastings the "Overacting Extra"

Everyone’s still talking about Jonathan Ross’s entertaining BBC documentary IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO. Something I personally found to be a nice touch in it was the scene where they were showing clips from various SPIDER-MAN projects. In the bit from the seventies American version, Ross makes reference to "overacting extras" whilst we see on-screen a near-hysterical guy saying he’d just seen Spidey. Well, that guy, the anonymous overacting extra in question, happens to be none other than my long-time friend from the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention, Bob Hastings!
Here’s a photo I took of Bob at the 2006 OTR Con (with everyone’s favorite award-winning re-creation actress, Karen Hughes). Having grown up enjoying MCHALE’S NAVY on television, It was a bit of a shock to me a few years ago when I realized that this man that I watched on TV as a small child now knew my name! Bob first came as a guest at the Con twenty years ago now! In his initial year, he shared the spotlight with the great Parley Baer and told great stories of Joe Flynn and Walt Disney movies. He also directed one of the re-creations of OTR scripts that year and proved himself a frenetic taskmaster as a director.
Almost every year since then , I have been lucky enough to perform onstage with Bob including twice as Jughead to his Archie. Bob has told me several times that he enjoys working with me because unlike some amateur performers, I don’t just stand at the mike and read the lines. I look at the other actors and play off of them. I learned this from watching Bob with actor/director Ezra Stone. Sitting next to him onstage, he taught me how to mark a script and how to silently turn the pages so the sound isn’t "broadcast."
Bob began as a singer on radio way back in the 1930’s! He became the definitive radio ARCHIE ANDREWS right at the initial height of the comic’s popularity. In the fifties, his familiar voice was heard in several memorable episodes of X-MINUS ONE. In the sixties he occasionally spelled Mel Blanc as the voice of the raven in the cuckoo clock on THE MUNSTERS (and in the later TV reunion film played the clan’s cousin, the Phantom). Besides MCHALE’S NAVY, Hastings also appeared in soap operas, Disney comedies and guest roles on everything from WONDER WOMAN and THE ROCKFORD FILES to THE NIGHT STALKER. Bob was "Kelsey" who ran Kelsey’s Bar on ALL IN THE FAMILY for several seasons (the "token conservative" on the show as he says). In recent years, he was the voice of Commisioner Gordon on the already classic Paul Dini BATMAN cartoons and spinoff features as well as doing video game voiceovers in games such as JAKK AND DAXTER. Earlier this year, he appeared on the cast reunion film shot for the MCHALE’S NAVY season one box set and, now age 81, gave a memorable performance as THE CANTERVILLE GHOST onstage at Cincinnati.
Okay, Bob may have been an overacting extra in that SPIDER-MAN clip but he’s a solid, professional performer and I’m proud to have been able to work with him over the years. Thanks, Bob!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bob Marley and the Banana Splits

Bob Marley is a favorite here at the Library but I never noticed until today just how much the "scat" lyrics at the end of BUFFALO SOLDIER --"Singing, woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!" sound exactly like the La-La-La's in the Banana Splits theme! Could the King of Reggae have been a closet Splits fan? See if you can find both songs on the Net and listen for yourself! It's uncanny!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ditko and the Doc

Finally got to see Jonathan Ross's IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO documentary that aired in the UK last weekend and it was great fun as well as being quite informative. It's now on Youtube and at a link from Mark Evanier's site so you can see for yourselves respected comics creators such as "magician" Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Mark Millar and Stan the Man himself (along with many others!) fawning over the work that defined a large portion of pop culture as we know it today. Good also to see Cat Yronwode and former Marvel letterhack Paul Gambaccini who moved to England and found fame as a broadcaster and author. Stan's interview is the most telling as the cordial Ross somehow gets him into inadvertantly giving the very definition of the creator issue Ditko has had with him all these years. Still, the best part is undeniably the ending in which Ross--with Gaiman in tow--actually call and then drop in on the reclusive Mister Ditko. What could have been a nightmare of privacy invasion in someone else's hands becomes a respectful, upbeat ending...marred only by the fact that Ditko's probably having to move to a new office now as, while he himself refuses to be photographed or filmed, his address is clearly visible in several shots and it's pointed out that his name is on the door. Hope that didn't shift Ross from the white side to the black side.

Seen here are a few of Steve Ditko's seminal SPIDER-MAN issues in their recent Sunday supplement editions as collected for the Library here by ace researcher DEREK Tague. Newspaper readership may be down but I wouldn't be surprised if they're still bigger than comics readership ever was. It's entirely possible that Ditko's work in these reprints was seen by more people than those who saw it in the originals!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pointing the Finger at Bob Kane

Even as a child, my friends and I could never quite seem to figure it out. Who did BATMAN? It said “Bob Kane” sometimes and yet the style was different much of the time from one issue to the next. It certainly didn’t help that the ubiquitous 80 Page Giants with their fifties reprints showed yet other styles, often appearing to have been drawn by DICK TRACY’s Chester Gould! We finally thought we’d figured it out when we pinpointed and identified Carmine Infantino’s angled, scratchy work on what we considered the best stories of the period. We decided that Bob Kane had to be the guy who drew the other stories in a stiff, unattractive style. When that style disappeared in the late sixties and Kane’s signature box with it, we knew we were right!…or so we thought at the time.

What you see here is probably the best single volume history of the Caped Crusader, hampered only by its use of Bob Kane as a source. Great visuals and factual information go side by side with anecdotes and memories that one now has to presume are largely fiction…much like Kane’s own (appropriately ghostwritten) “autobiography,” BATMAN AND ME. If you read between the lines 1989’s TALES OF THE DARK KNIGHT by Mark Cotta Vez almost seems to KNOW some of the truth but neatly skirts around it always ending up back at the “official” history. Luckily, the truth will out.

Check out DIAL B for BLOG - THE WORLD'S GREATEST COMIC BLOGAZINE in which everybody’s favorite (recently returned) blogger, Robby Reed coalesces much of the less than flattering info that’s come out on Kane in recent years and quite literally points the Finger at Bob! Today offers part three of a three part series in which we see that Kane may not have actually created the character at all, never wrote BATMAN, traced much of the artwork generally attributed to him, lied for decades about using ghosts—even to the other ghosts—cheated Bill Finger out of rightful credit and somehow still had the best damn contract in comic book history! The next time somebody asks you as a comics fan who created BATMAN, maybe the answer should be “Nobody knows!”

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Our Gang-The Life and Times of the Little Rascals

The other day we mentioned Fantagraphics’ ongoing reprint series of OUR GANG COMICS. Today, we offer OUR GANG-THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE LITTLE RASCALS by everyone’s favorite Leonard Maltin and Richard W. Bann. Hard for me to believe that this book itself is thirty years old this year. One of the BEST written and laid out film books in the Collection, this enjoyable volume offers a marvelous overview of the series and how it fits into film history, a film by film look at the over 200 Hal Roach and MGM shorts and a near-complete "Whatever happened to…" section! Interspersed with all of this, you’ll find an absolute treasure trove of photos of Gang regulars from the silent days onward—Mickey Daniels, Joe Cobb, Mary Kornman, Farina, Wheezer, Jackie Cooper, Stymie Beard, Scotty Beckett, Echo DeBorba, Mickey (Robert Blake!) Gubitosi, Froggie and, of course, the classic crew of Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat and Darla. At the time I got this book, the "Little Rascals" package was running on local TV and I watched it religiously with this book by my side, taking in all of the behind-the-scenes anecdotes and trivia. Eventually, they even ran quite a few of the silent films and the book definitely came in handy there as I hadn’t even suspected that there WERE silent OUR GANG comedies! If you are or ever were a fan then you MUST have this book in your own library! It seems to be a staple in used bookstores and I’m pretty sure is still in print even! This is the way all film books should be done! Thanks Leonard and Richard!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks# 28

VOLERE VOLARE is a 1991 Italian sex comedy with a twist. Billed as a "Roger Rabbit" for adults, the twist is that the man male character is slowly turning into a cartoon character! A Woody Allen-type nebbish, he takes up with a prostitute who doesn't ever seem to have sex with her clients as she indulges their otherwise kinky fantasies such as covering her in chocolate. Eventually, he falls for her and, as he completely becomes the cartoon, hilarity ensues. I grabbed a VHS copy of this about ten years ago after reading about it in a magazine when it was new. Here's a link to it's IMDB page with lots of positive reviews:Volere volare (1991)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 10

Shooting a man is never a good thing; shooting an officer of the law certainly even less so. It is, however, a really big deal and I'm surprised that the strongest reaction we get from Officer Riley's buddy in this pre-code comic is..."Dagnabbit!" I think this one truly deserved at least a "Gosh darn it!"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cissy Colpitts

Having minor issues with my scanner (as well as various other technological items. Hmmm...wonder if this is all rellated) so today, we venture back into the "already in the computer" archives for a couple of nice shots of actress Cissy Colpitts sent to me some time ago by a fellow fan. Cissy's name comes up daily in the referrals to this site, usually more than once! I hope the dear girl--long since renamed Cisse Cameron--realizes just what a fan base she has here on the Net. These pics seem to date from the early 1970's.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Green Hornet Radio and Comic Ad

Here from the early 1940's is a back cover ad for THE GREEN HORNET listing radio stations throughout the country where the popular adventure/mystery show could be found. Locally, I would have listened (had I been alive) on WKRC which is still in business today albeit as an arch-conservative all-talk station!

Most of you probably know that the Hornet--who also inspired THE BLUE BEETLE--was himself inspired by THE LONE RANGER with Britt Reid being the son (or was it grandson?) of the Ranger's nephew Dan who appeared as a regular in many LR episodes. The pulp-inspired character was successful enough to earn several versions of a comic book and a classic movie serial before being revived in a less successful TV series in the mid-sixties. That series has, over time, become a cult favorite (and not JUST because of Bruce Lee!). I myself once appeared as a wise-cracking newspaper photographer in a re-creation of a GREEN HORNET episode at the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention. We have here at the Library a giant floor model radio from the 1930's and I've said for years that the problem with it is that even if you warm up the tubes it still gets talk-radio and hip-hop and not classic radio series! Sometimes I just turn it on and watch it light up, then turn the sound down and turn on the tape player behind it and listen to the Flight of the Bumblebee. THE GREEN HORNET stings again!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 9

Who knew that Froggie from OUR GANG invented Viagra way back when? Guess that would explain why that thing was always sticking up on Alfalfa's head (which is a mildly amusing line but note to Alfie fans--he's not in any of these issues)! And say, isn't that kid a bit young to be married? Let's not EVEN get into that gay reference! This panel is from the recently published Vol. 2 of Fantagraphics' WALT KELLY'S OUR GANG. Amazingly entertaining stuff--much more than the latter day OUR GANG shorts themselves-- but if you buy it, please note that the intro by one "Steve Thompson" is NOT from yours truly but rather my Okefenokee doppelganger who edits THE FORT MUDGE MOST. Hi, Steve!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd

For those coming in late, we here at the Library have an entire bookcase of books on the Beatles. In the last few years I’ve quit buying them due to our financial issues (don’t forget that tipbox!) but I made an exception for WONDERFUL TONIGHT.
Actually I’ve said for years that I wished Pattie Boyd would write a book. I just wish it hadn’t been this one. Who is Pattie Boyd, some of you may ask? Like the fabled Helen of Troy, Pattie inspired several of the most beautiful love songs of the rock era including George Harrison’s SOMETHING (a favorite of Frank Sinatra although he often credited it to Lennon and McCartney) and Eric Clapton’s WONDERFUL TONIGHT, from which this book takes its title. In between, Ms Boyd also inspired what is inarguably one of the most soul-wrenching anthems of unrequited love, Clapton’s original LAYLA.
You see, Pattie Boyd met and became infatuated with the Quiet Beatle when she appeared as a teenage extra in A HARD DAY’S NIGHT. They were married, famously arrested for drugs and then George drifted into Eastern religions and didn’t pay enough attention to her. In comes his buddy, Eric "God" Clapton who falls for her like a ton of bricks but can’t do anything since she’s married to his best friend. So instead he becomes a hopeless junkie. The story has what SHOULD have been a happy ending when George (himself already sleeping with others including Ringo’s then-wife, Maureen!) tells the two of them they can be together with his blessing. Clapton cleans up his act…mostly. The three surviving Beatles even appear together at the wedding! So Clapton gets his girl—his great unrequited love—and then proceeds to cheat on her endlessly! WTF!!?? Eric, you shcmuck! You won! Don’t you get that? You not only survived but you won!!
Sigh. Clapton, to me, comes across quite poorly in this book. He’s revealed to be extremely neurotic to the point where he paid people to take his driving test and even his pre-wedding blood test! He makes poor choices and bad decisions over and over and in spite of his tremendous musical talent (he’s a favorite of my cat’s!) he never seems happy with his success.
Not that George comes across much better. Even though his ex eschews some of the seamier aspects of their lives at Friar Park that can be found in other Harrison bios, he still comes across as a self-absorbed jerk much of the time.
For her own part, the best parts of the story actually deal with Pattie’s growing up in Africa and the culture shock when her splintered, dysfunctional family ended up not only in the more urbanized worlds of England but right in the middle of the sixties revolutions! Even then, though, I don’t ever really get to LIKE Pattie. By the end of the book, she seems almost as innocent and na├»ve as she was in the beginning as if she’d learned very little at all from the journey and all the pain. Although she achieved her own success over the years, she, too, comes across as terminally unhappy.
As a Beatles fan, I suppose it’s a must have item but overall it deflates the era a bit too much to actually enjoy and you STILL get the impression she was trying to sugarcoat parts of the story.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

All Star # 3 Ad

DC may not have known what they had when they first published SUPERMAN as it was months before he appeared again on an ACTION COMICS cover. By the time of ALL STAR COMICS # 3, however, they seemed to be a little more precognitive. In this contemporary ad, the issue is referred to as "the most exciting comic book ever published" and it certainly may have been just that! This legendary issue with its much copied and parodied JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA cover presented the very first team-up of super heroes and led to Timely's ALL-STAR SQUADRON and eventually to the JUSTICE LEAGUE and THE AVENGERS. This one book profoundly influenced young Roy Thomas and young Jerry Bails and later they profoundly influenced not only fandom but the Silver Age! "Attend this first meeting of the JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA and get the biggest comic thrill of your life!," it says. The stories themselves weren't much being solo stories told by each memeber of the "club." The point was the potential! Who knew that it would someday lead to a several hundred member LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention 2007

Haven't seen too much publicity for this Con but it's coming up this weekend. If you're in or around Aberdeen, Maryland Thursday, Friday or Saturday and you're reading this blog then you probably should be there. This is put on by my pal Martin Grams whom I see once a year at the Cincinnati OTR Con. Martin is a surprisingly prolific ( for his young age) author on old TV and radio subjects and is featured along with my own first short story in (here's that shameless plug again) IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN 3. Martin knows everyone or someone who knows everyone and for this second convention of his, BUCK ROGERS' Erin Gray and one of my all-time favorite character actors, Denny Miller, are among those who'll be on-hand. Ace researcher DEREK Tague will be interviewing both of these folks onstage this weekend. Wish I could be there. Here's the website: Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, 2007. Check out the long career of former Tarzan Denny Miller, Actor/ Author (seen above in a recent shot) at his own site also!
Hey Martin! Here's an idea! Get Linda Blair next year and I'll find a way to be there no matter what...of course, I get to interview her, not Derek. Deal? See what you can do, okay?

Kirby on Disney's Black Hole

Comics fans, sometime this week if you find yourself in the checkout lane of the supermarket as I did last evening, take a glance at the fall issue of Disney’s COMIC ZONE digest. This issue, amongst the typical PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, and off-model Mickey and Goofy strips (Uncle Walt’s turning over in his freezer on those I’m sure!) you’ll find a real treat! THE BLACK HOLE by Jack Kirby! This was originally done as a newspaper strip adaptation to plug the company’s 1979 STAR WARS rip-off. Highly anticipated, the all-star film turned out to be a major disappointment all around and few papers even carried this strip. Until now, I had only ever seen a few sample strips! Now here, newly colored and like an all-new blast from the past, we’re given the first part of the King’s "adaptation." Featuring some of his best work from this period, Kirby seems to have made no effort to make the actors look like the film’s stars. This MAY have beeen for contractual reasons or it may well be Kirby just being Kirby. The point is, as the King himself once said, "Don’t ask! Just buy it!" Six pages well worth the cost of the mag. Skip the rest.

Doctor Diamond

Here's one of those generic 1940's super heroes, Doctor Diamond. In real life, he's a guy with a mustache. In his heroic guise, he's a barely dressed guy with a mustache. As evidenced by these consecutive panels, his super power seems to be to make his rather baggy-looking trunks change color. They start out as blue, go unseen in the next panel, then appear white! At the top of the next page, they're now red!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Linda Blair ( and Friends) in Oui--Fully Clothed!

Once again we return to that nigh-legendary 1982 issue of OUI which featured Linda Blair nude. Often overlooked because of that little fact is what is probably the best and most in-depth interview Linda has ever given. In it she expounds on philosophy, show-biz, her drug troubles, stalkers, horses, her childhood career as the Cinderella Girl and, of course, the making of THE EXORCIST. Here also are two more lesser seen (probably because she's clothed) photos of Linda from that issue. These were taken at a disco where OUI threw a party in honor of former Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice. Seen with Linda and Carmine is Raven De La Croix, a sometime actress and at the time the West Coast editor of Oui. The mudsharks are references to the infamous and perhaps apocryphal mudshark sex anecdote (which is usually told about Led Zeppelin but which Appice apparently claimed in a previous OUI interview). Linda has, as we know, gone on to be a champion of animal rescue (see Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation). Carmine Appice is one of the most respected drummers of rock history and has a modest little website of his own here: Carmine Appice - Intro. Raven De La Croix has had a spiritual rebirth and has a fascinating history told at her own website here: Rantings of a Madwoman

Sunday, September 09, 2007

TV Bank-1951

We've written here before about how anyone and everyone was trying to make you THINK you were getting TV (or better yet COLOR TV!) back in the fifties when it was hot, new and trendy...but expensive. Here's one from '51 that I'd never seen before--an ad for a TV Bank. I think from the sound of it that when you drop your money in the bank it activates a light on a small screen and shows you one of six different scenes. Did they actually move?? Not sure but either way I'll bet most folks who got it felt ripped-off...doubly so when their grandkids are now selling 'em on EBay!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Snoopy and the Red Baron

In the early 1960's, Charles Schulz gave up all pretense that Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy was in any sense similar to a real canine. One of the ways he did this was to have the beagle develop an overt imagination which led him to be a writer, an explorer and, on ocassion, a World War I flying ace. In the latter guise, our fuzzy hero would sit on the roof of his doghouse wearing a pilot's helmet, goggles and scarf envisioning himself in airborne combat with that greatest of all German flying aces, the Red Baron.

In 1966, a hardcover book was published entitled SNOOPY AND THE RED BARON. Seen here is the mass market paperback of that book from a few years later. The "color on every page" line refers to the fact that every single page is printed on a different day-glo color of thick paper--red,orange, blue, green, etc. Flip through it and it may cause siezures! The book simply reprints highlights--one panel per page--of some of the earliest Red Baron strips and yet is justly touted on the cover as being "the most famous PEANUTS book of all!"

Around the same time the book came out originally, a pop-rock group calling themselves the Royal Guardsmen somehow got permission to do a tie-in song. This, of course, was the catchy SNOOPY VS THE RED BARON, still heard on oldies stations to this day (I heard it last week!). Although a talented bunch, the group's only other successes came with a series of follow-up songs including the perennial holiday classic, SNOOPY'S CHRISTMAS. Their work has been reissued endlessly over the decades, often with Schulz artwork replacing this original cover. Seems like I read somewhere that they're still (or back) together and still singing Snoopy songs!

All of this probably did more for the modern reputation of the real Red Baron (aka "The Red Knight"), Manfred Von Richtofen, than any history of the "war to end all wars" ever did. A fascinating man--and the obvious inspiration for DC's ENEMY ACE series that came out around the same time of the original Snoopy flying ace strips--, here's a link to Manfred von Richthofen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia which gives a detailed history and biography...but doesn't even mention a beagle.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 8

Need I point out to my fellow aficionados that this sex-change scenario is actually ripping off its ending from a much better EC story by Feldstein and Wood? The art in this Charlton version may be by a young Dick Giordano.

Gold Key Jokes

Gold Key comics in the sixties weren't like any other comics. For one thing, most of them had painted covers at a time when nothing at Marvel or DC did. They had limited ads, also and seemingly whiter paper. The content wasn't always riveting, mind you, with lots of licensed product and TV tie-ins, uncredited art (often by greats such as Reed Crandall and Wally Wood) and writing, no letter columns and almost NO super-heroes! That said, the one thing you could always enjoy in a Gold Key comic was the monthly Jokes page. I'm running short on time today so here's one now. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Atlantic City Holiday or Jayne Mansfield's From Venus

Found this one while digging through old TV GUIDES. Listed on IMDB as if it were a simple variety special with all of the stars playing themselves, this "Spectacular" ( as they called them waaaay back in the day) sounds much more interesting in this ad. Sex Symbol Jayne Mansfield had just done her breakthrough role in THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT and apparently appeared here as an alien from Venus protected by boxer Rocky Graziano as a fellow Venusian! Comic Jack Carter and singer Polly Bergen guide the pair through 90 minutes of full color (and that was a big selling point to those who could afford color sets!) acts from Atlantic City including Bill Haley and the Comets! I’m betting this show has never been seen again unless one of the Museums of Television and Radio has a copy. Carter was never a favorite of mine as a stand-up but always enjoyable as a character actor—often a villain—in sixties and seventies TV. He was a pretty good panel game show member also and is still around today. Polly Bergen is also still around having recently turned up on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES after a long and successful sideline career in cosmetics. Did anyone reading this ever actually SEE this intriguing show? Something tells me it was more about the Zanies and the diving horse than any of the potentially really cool stuff.

Tom Mix Commandos

Tom Mix was a real guy who made literally hundreds of western movies until his death in 1940. Wrote, produced and directed a bunch also. Mix's reputation, however, was greatly enhanced by the long-running radio series sponsered by Ralston and starring Curley Bradley (a much better actor than Mix himself) as Mix. Writer/director Jim Harmon (and my editor on IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN 3) actually revived TOM MIX on radio in the 1970's, again with Bradley. Here, however, from the early 1940's is proof that even the great cowboy's death couldn't keep him from supporting the war effort (or keep Ralston from exploiting his image)!

The '77-'78 New Fall Season

If you’ll notice, there’s a bunch of new television programs coming on these days. This, of course, is a throwback to the days of three networks and was called "the new season." Although that term is still heard from time to time, in these days of new shows coming and going at all times of the year on hundreds of cable channels, the networks seem a bit superfluous and the term season should probably be replaced by the British "series." That’s as in "FAWLTY TOWERS ran for two series. They were made several years apart so they weren’t really "seasons" in this context.
That said, here’s some nostalgia from TV GUIDE—the schedule for the new Fall season of 1977-78, now thirty years gone. Let’s reminisce, shall we?

Saturday nights were tough that year and my family alternated, watching all of these series on alternate weeks. THE BIONIC WOMAN offered ok plots and fx with Lindsay Wagner as the thinking man’s sex symbol. I had her poster right next to Farrah’s. Well, Farrah’s six or seven to be honest (and one of Linda Blair!) FISH was Abe Vigoda’s kinda funny BARNEY MILLER spin-off and didn’t last the whole season. I particularly liked THE TONY RANDALL SHOW, this being the one in which he portrayed a judge. CAROL BURNETT had too much "Eunice" I think by this point so we tended to watch LOVE BOAT at our house.

Sunday I just watched THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and ALICE regularly with NBC very much dependent on what was on Disney and the BIG EVENT as to whether we watched at all.

Mondays we watched nothin’ at 8. Nada. CBS and ABC’s offerings didn’t last long and we may have watched whatever replaced them. I did particularly enjoy Patrick McGoohan’s quirky HOUSE-like medical show, RAFFERTY and THE BETTY WHITE SHOW, this one being a caustic showbiz parody with Caren Kaye and the great John Hillerman.

Tuesdays found us on ABC for HAPPY DAYS and LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY, then switching to CBS for M.A.S.H., my favorite show at that time, and ONE DAY AT A TIME. We picked up on SOAP, though, about halfway through the season (a time change perhaps?) and it became one of my all-time faves also. We alternated at 10 with my mother enjoying FAMILY and I, myself, preferring LOU GRANT (which I believe moved to Mondays).

Wednesday was ABC all the way for EIGHT IS ENOUGH, CHARLIE’S ANGELS and Robert Blake’s BARETTA. BIG HAWAII didn’t stand a chance at our house.

Thursday brought another fight with me preferring WELCOME BACK KOTTER and WHAT’s HAPPENING but my mother usually winning with THE WALTONS. BARNEY MILLER we all agreed on and Victor French’s CARTER COUNTRY got watched just because the other two nets were already halfway into hour shows. At 10, we watched the short-lived ROSETTI AND RYAN while it lasted. I remember it as being an amusing and intelligent lawyer show featuring Tony Roberts and TV commercial mainstay Squire Fridell. TV GUIDE picked it as a possible winner but it wasn’t.

Friday was another of those nights where it depended on the family’s mood. All of these series were watched at one time or another. Despite the fact that I’m on record as to THE ROCKFORD FILES being another all-time favorite, I think I skipped it that year to watch LOGAN’S RUN. SWITCH with Eddie Albert, Robert Wagner and Sharon Gless was also big at our house that year.

Ah, memories. This year, I’m looking forward to…maybe…and strangely enough…THE BIONIC WOMAN. I saw the pilot (as I’m sure many of you have on the Net) and found the villain to have more charisma than our heroine. Did quite like Miguel Ferrer, though. That’s really about it for this "season." Sigh. Things change.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

10 Hitler Heads!

One thing I never got into as a collector is stamps. Oh, I tried, mind you, for about three months in 1970. Just didn't care for all the minutiae for some reason. Go figure. Anyway, today's offering is an early 1950's stamp collector ad offering "10 Hitler Heads!" Gives whole new meaning to licking the Nazis.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ben Ohmart Has a Blog!

I've never met Ben Ohmart nor did he ask me to write this.

In the interests of full disclosure, however, Ben Ohmart is the publisher of IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN 3 which featured my first published short story (not exactly as I recently found out but that's another story) and also my upcoming second appearance in WELL! REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE AND CAREER OF JACK BENNY. That said, this man founded BearManor Media in order to publish books about pop culture folks and shows that the major publishers wouldn't touch. Where else can you find full length biographies of Agnes Moorehead, Guy Williams and Walter Tetley...let alone the great Paul Frees! Bear Manor also published my Christa co-author's book on Barbara Payton!

Now Ben has a new blog! This should be fun as this man knows everyone and/or at least their relatives! Case in point: Here's a great shot lifted from The Ohmarts that features Diana Canova (SOAP). Diana is the daughter of comedienne Judy Canova who is the subject of yet another upcoming Bear Manor book. Diana Canova is also an as yet unrevealed crush of mine (yes, another one!) dating all the way back to a memorable guest appearance on HAPPY DAYS! Haven't seen her in years but she looks great! I am so jealous, Ben!

Summer of Love Concerts

Lotsa talk in the media about a big San Francisco concert commemorating the Summer of Love this weekend featuring the Doors’ Ray Manzarek, the Youngbloods’ Jessie Colin Young, the Chambers Brothers and whatever other few survivors they could corral. Here, from the real thing (well, late sixties San Francisco but not necessarily ’67), are six cool Fillmore rock concert posters—looking here like psychedelic postage stamps—taken from Time-Life’s sixties volume of their series, THIS FABULOUS CENTURY.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The World's Finest Cookout

Seen here is the cover of the very first issue of WORLD’S FINEST that I ever saw. I thought the cookout/camping theme was kind of appropriate for Labor Day weekend’s last blowout of summer. Me, I gotta work today so I hope those of you who do party have a safe and happy one!
This was actually the second of two appearances of the imaginary sons of Superman and Batman (see below for the first from 1965). Now, these were not the legendarily awful Bob Haney Super Sons stories (that he insisted were IN continuity in spite of all evidence to the contrary). These were cute stories set just a decade or so into the future in which both heroes had married—in a double ceremony in fact—their respective sweethearts (Lois and, for Bruce Wayne, Kathy Kane) and later had kids. It’s established that many kids of that time period wore superhero playsuits to emulate their idols so the kids can pass without having to be out of costume.
By the second story, a scant 5 months later, the adult heroes are showing a bit of gray around the temples. It happens when you have kids. That story features the kids screwing around playing pranks on the adults until its eventually discovered that they’ve been replaced by Mister Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite. Coincidentally, this exact same plot was used a year or so later in continuity only with Supergirl and Batgirl having been replaced by Mxy and Bat-Mite!
Nice silver age art by Curt Swan and George Klein make this one supreme nostalgia for me. Off to work now.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Collage # 2-TV's Golden Moments

This collage from the early 1990’s is, of course, more than a bit facetious in its title, TV’S GOLDEN MOMENTS. In fact, celebrated here are more wacky WTF ideas from 1970’s and early ‘80’s television than you can shake Garry Marshall at! In those pre-cable days, however, these were sometimes all we had, folks. So we watched…and watched…and kvetched about the crap on TV! Now we have 300 or so channels and I STILL can’t find anything worth watching. Ironically, if I came across some of these unlikely to be collected on DVD gems anytime soon on my cable today, I’d probably watch!
An incomplete listing of what you see includes:
SUPERTRAIN-NBC’s highly touted "LOVE BOAT on a train only with mystery instead of romance" concept was notable only for the participation of Vincent Price and wife Coral Browne (as Capt. Stubing and Gopher, respectively.)
THANKSGIVING REUNION WITH THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY AND MY THREE SONS-Now this had potential! If the Partridge’s bus broke down in front of the Douglas home and the two mega-families were forced to spend the holidays together, this COULD have worked! Unfortunately, it was a clipfest with Fred MacMurray and Shirley Jones sitting around introducing other cast members. The reason for combining these two shows that had less than nothing to do with each other is totally lost on me.
MRS. COLUMBO-Okay, you see, Peter Falk was always threatening to walk out on COLUMBO if he wasn’t paid a gazillion bucks a season AND get shorter seasons. NBC got tired of caving in and so hired Kate Mulgrew to be the oft-mentioned but never seen wife of the rumpled detective and have HER solve mysteries. Who needed Falk anyway? Hah! Well, this series just confused the hell out of everybody and Falk was soon back. NBC tried to keep it going anyhow by retitling it KATE COLUMBO and later KATE LOVES A MYSTERY. I think they even eventually changed the character’s last name. Didn’t help. I don’t think the Lieutenant ever mentioned his Missus again.
THE SONNY AND CHER SHOW-Sonny’s solo series flopped and Cher’s fell quickly out of early favor. Thus the network reunited the now very publically divorced couple for the cameras. The jibes just weren’t funny anymore, though, because we all knew what had gone between them. Instead of looking forward to mom and dad with Chastity at the end of every episode, now we just felt sorry for Chas. Sigh.
FITZ AND BONES- Concept: The Brothers Smothers are back only this time they’re non-controversial detectives instead of comedic social commentators. Yeah, right.
DIFF’RENT STROKES-"Arnold Meets Ruthie," it proclaims! Okay, let’s take a cute kid who was already full of himself by that time and have his horribly preachy "sitcom" cross over with HELLO, LARRY, one of McLean Stevenson’s legendary post-M.A.S.H. flops so he can meet cutie Kim Richards (formerly of NANNY AND THE PROFESSOR and later shockingly blown away in John Carpenter’s original, classic ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13). If either show had been funny and had this crossover been made when both kids were at a cuter stage, this might have seemed like a good idea.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE-THE NEXT GENERATION-To be fair, there was some good stuff here during this ill-fated "new cast" season. I liked Denny Dillon, Gail Mathius, Joe Piscopo and even Charlie Rocket (whose dropping of the "F Bomb" on live TV got most of the cast canned) later redeemed himself as a good character actor. Who would have believed that Gilbert Gottfried would have gone on to be the most successful out of this bunch, though?
CHARLIE’S ANGELS-" The Male Angel Affair" was the perhaps inevitable attempt at doing a male variation on the theme, notable only for the presence of Miss Barbara Stanwyck as the female "Charlie." Unlike the faceless leader of the girls, she was very much seen on camera. I guess if you pay for Barbara Stanwyck, you expect to SEE Barbara Stanwyck!
PINK LADY AND JEFF-Hmm… I think this IS out on DVD, isn’t it? What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Hi, Mark!
THE BRADY BUNCH VARIETY HOUR, BATTLE OF THE NETWORK STARS, a Johnny Yune sitcom, Cheryl Ladd and Raquel Welch specials, Beatles TV bios. Sigh. It really was the Golden Age of Bad TV!