Sunday, March 30, 2008

Random Panel of Comic Book Weirdness # 27

Aquaman in Space!!!!! Personally, I think this concept should have been given its own series! Here's what looks to be an Infantino-inspired shot by Nick Cardy from AQUAMAN # 8. Can you imagine if Wally Wood had drawn it? Or maybe even the Sea King's later artist, Jim Aparo! Who needs a spacesuit anyway? Just gimme some waterproof gloves and the stars my destination!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ralph Bakshi and Heavy Traffic

Here's alink (via Jerry Beck) to a new interview with the ever-controversial Ralph Bakshi:BlackBook: Ralph Bakshi on the ‘Fritz’ BlackBook Media - Guides and Popular CultureAlong with it, here's the opening and first few minutes of HEAVY TRAFFIC--not only Bakshi's best movie but one of my all-time favorite opening sequences! The film is violent, profane and at times disgusting but oddly beautiful and with a great soundtrack!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Skipper Ryle Interview

I've recently had an influx of visitors looking for or emailing me about local Cincinnati kids show host Glenn "Skipper" Ryle. Here's a link to an early nineties TV interview with Skipper conducted by Nick Clooney: .CET, Cincinnati Cincinnati Broadcast Pioneer - Glenn Ryle The two were old friends as Glenn had played the Ed McMahon role on Nick's talk show and later was a weatherman when Nick was a news anchor.

I only ever saw him in person once, circa 1972, but the very first contest I ever won was a pizza coupon from THE SKIPPER RYLE SHOW in 1965.

Dotty and Ditto by Bill Woggon

Here's a cute little comic story by KATY KEENE's papa, Bill Woggon from PEP COMICS # 58. MLJ's PEP had started out as a superhero showcase spotlighting, amongst others, THE SHIELD and THE HANGMAN. By this point, though, ARCHIE had made his debut and was well on his merry way to squeezing the long underwear guys out of the book entirely. Originally, the covers featured THE SHIELD. With ARCHIE's growing popularity, they began featuring THE SHIELD in humorous scenes with the red-headed teenager and his friends. Later ol' SHIELD was relegated to the upper right hand corner circle while Arch monopolized every cover. The only time, as far as I know, that the two features interacted INSIDE the comic was in this dream story.In fact, ALL of PEP's features--even SUPER DUCK--were involved in this one! The Shield figures seem to be drawn by someone else, possibly his regular artist, Irv Novick (known much later for his work on FLASH and BATMAN in the seventies) and I speculate that they were pasted over Woggon's version of BLACK HOOD who doesn't appear at all in spite of Dotty's telling Gramps that he did!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Possible Blog Interruption Warning

Just a word of warning for those of you who are kind enough to stop by here on a fairly regular basis that there is a distinct possibility that we will again be offline briefly within the next few days for the usual reason. In the meantime, feel free to starin your eyes looking for my friend Rose in the accompanying wallpaper art. (I know it looks like chains but she's really in there! Scores of times in fact although I have trouble finding any of them, too!)

Cutie Honey-The Live

One of my favorite guilty pleasures of late has been the Japanese TV series, CUTIE HONEY-THE LIVE, now reaching its end. The character of the android superheroine, Cutie Honey, has been around since the seventies, usually in animated form, but I was most familiar with it through "Joshua Quagmire's" eighties comic book parody character, Cutey Bunny (See:the QUAGMIRE ). As with many Japanese programs, it offers surreal delights to audiences. In this case, the basic story consists of Honey, as a uniformed high school student, fighting an evil organization in her off hours. Beyond that, though, we have not so under undertones of lesbianism, a considerable amount of PG13 T&A, a soap opera backstory, unusual villains like the old fish lady, an eggsucking villainess and a transvestite who looks like Jim Morrison but WANTS to be Honey and, before long, the introduction of not one but TWO other superheroines. In contrast to Honey's pinkness, the two newcomers wear blue and white. The blue girl is a dark, surly figure while the white girl is all cheery and light at first but then comes to covet Honey's android body for spare parts! It's funny, visually cool and has some kick-ass action. There's a great musical score (as is usually the case with Japanese TV) and a serialized plot that keeps you wondering what the hell they're going to pull out of their kinky bag next!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks # 36

Andy Kaufman was either a comedic genius or had some serious mental issues…or both. What he is rarely considered, however, is an actor. That said, he effortlessly stole many episodes of TV’s TAXI from its great ensemble cast and was given exactly one opportunity to get top billing in a feature film—1981’s HEARTBEEPS.
Although it has a lot going for it, HEARTBEEPS is a cult film that never happened. The fact that it features a musical score by John Williams is proof that this was intended to be a much bigger film than it turned out to be. The fact that it was directed by one of my favorite directors, HEROES’ Alan Arkush, known mainly at the time for his cult classics HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD and ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL( as well as the soon to follow GET CRAZY from 1983), shows that it really was a long shot.

Andy Kaufman had played a robot character in a failed sci-fi sitcom pilot from 1977(which is probably still up on YouTube) entitled STICK AROUND. In this movie, he was once again a robot, this time in love with (and who wouldn’t be?) another robot played by Bernadette Peters (herself the Dick Clark of Broadway actresses).
HEARTBEEPS is slow but sweet, amusing but not really funny. For the film fan, the fun is in spotting folks like the ever-popular Dick Miller in the cast along with the ever-welcome team of Mary Woronov and the late Paul Bartel. Bigger names amongst the co-stars include Christopher Guest, Randy Quaid (both soon to be SNL stars at the time), director/actress Melanie Mayron and the great character actress Kathleen Freeman.

Kaufman would shoot his "performance art" reputation in the foot in subsequent years, alienating his fans over and over with his insistence on wrestling women and his bizarre Tony Clifton persona (often not even played by Andy but by his co-conspirator Bob Zmuda!). Because of his bizarre history, his unexpected death in 1984 from lung cancer was seen by many as yet another outlandish prank.

HEARTBEEPS was quickly forgotten by most with neither Kaufman’s or Peters’ respective careers affected in any way whatsoever.

Precious Update

For those of you who care, a brief personal update. Today was the day of our dog's surgery and Precious seems to have come through it with flying colors. He's back home already with a week's worth of meds. They said he's be lethargic but he isn't. They told us he shouldn't climb the stairs for a few days but he very carefully walked up them himself before we noticed. He seemed quite proud of the feat. He DID bleed all over the passenger seat in the car but we took him right back to the vet and that was not from his incision but from a nail they clipped to keep him from tearing at it. They quickly fixed it AND showed me how to get the blood up from the car seat!

The next phase is waiting to see if the cancer has spread. Initial results look positive but the final word is still to come. Think good thoughts.

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 26

And she's failing miserably because that really isn't one of her powers! Seriously, I GET that the X-MEN's Jean Grey can read minds and use her own mind power to move things around and all that but how in the world could she possibly pick up the "mind patterns" of the last people in that room and even if she did, what would that tell her? Wouldn't mind patterns be more like fingerprints than something that might actually tell her who had been there? And if she DOES somehow pick up the mind patterns, how does she sort them out so that she can tell whether they were from the last persons in the room? Sigh.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sparkle Plenty Ad

In the mid-1940's Gravel Gertie and B.O.Plenty, two bizarre supporting characters in DICK TRACY, got married and had a baby. Considering the general unattractiveness of her parents (reformed criminals), the only logical thing for the strip's creator, Chester Gould, to do was to make their offspring the worlds's cutest baby! That was SPARKLE PLENTY, the hillbilly baby with a mane of long golden hair. In the strip, she became a phenomenon but in real life she did, also! Here's just one product "Sparkle" herself endorsed--a miniature ukelele. Remaining in the background of the strip for the next few decades, she eventually wed Junior Tracy after his first wife, Moon Maid (a remnant of the stripo's long flirtation with science-fiction in the sixties) was killed off.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Redefining Concepts

The Internet is, of course, mighty freaking big! One is tempted by its very nature to refer to it as endless. An often heard valid complaint is that the World Wide Web is too impersonal, that it discourages real interactions between people. You may pride yourself, for example, on having more than three hundred friends on MySpace or Facebook but can you name them all? Would you have any idea who they really were even if you could name them all?

Me, I look at the Internet like the Fantastic Four’s Negative Zone. It’s a vast and virtual place where anything can and probably has or will happen. Perhaps the real problem with the whole controversy is in ourselves and our own pre-conceived notions. Time and time again, we hold on to cherished notions long since antiquated and in essence deny or at least delay the benefits of the future we’ve long craved. Reality encroaches on our day to day existence faster than we can redefine it within ourselves.

Maybe it’s past time to rethink the concept of "friends" and redefine the word in less restrictive terms. On the ‘Net, one can meet a lot of people, many of whom are already defining themselves differently than their own physical realities. You want them to like you so perhaps you recreate yourself in a form you’ve always seen yourself in your own head. Next thing you know, you have a group of people that you may never actually meet, see or spend any time with except online.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is that this blog—my own personal little online expression of what I find interesting in pop culture—is read from time to time by some of my own personal heroes. Creators whose work I’ve read and admired in some cases since the 1970’s have commented or sent me emails. In some cases we’ve even become close. In some cases I now consider myself friends with them and I believe they consider me a friend, too.

The incident with our dog, Precious, that I wrote about last week is what brought all this to mind. We were desperate, scared and disheartened and suddenly someone appears out of the blue and saves the day, just like the superheroes we write about here every day. This person was someone I had exchanged a few emails with since starting this blog but I’ve never physically been in their presence. It was, to put it mildly, unexpected and amazing to my wife and I that this could happen. This person I consider to be a real friend. This person I consider to be our own personal superhero.

Precious’s surgery is now scheduled for Tuesday. I think that because of this incident I feel closer to all of you reading this right now. Maybe I can’t touch you physically but maybe I don’t need to do that to call you all friends. Have I thanked you enough for being there with me these last couple of years? If not, I thank you again…friends. Let’s go play with some more cool stuff!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Superman Says-"Human Rights For All!"

Here is yet another public service announcement strip featuring the Man of Steel, one of many that DC offered from the late forties through the late seventies. This one dates from the late fifties I think (I lost my scan info. Sorry.) and is drawn by Win Mortimer, a talented but rather unremarkable artist overall but one who did some wonderful, playful covers for SUPERMAN, WORLD'S FINEST and other titles over the years!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Snoopy Strikes Again

Speaking of dogs--Here's a cool model ad from the late sixties, done up as a comic strip that has an almost underground feel to me for some reason. Snoopy's surreally imaginary battles with the Red Baron had become a cult favorite subsection from PEANUTS and here (along with the spin-off book and the pop songs we wrote about last year)was one result. By giving him a real Sopwith Camel, however--as opposed to his own doghouse--the model inadvertantly frays the fantasy that had become so beloved by young and old. Note that an attempt at keeping the pop art feel was made by having a word balloon that you fill in yourself. The best touch though, in my mind, was the base to display the plane. Finally! There was the doghouse! That got them--pardon the expression--out of the doghouse with me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Calling All Dog Rescue Fans

If it isn't one financial crisis, it's another. Looks like the pup we rescued eight years ago (and wrote about here:BOOKSTEVE'S LIBRARY: Linda Blair's World Heart Foundation) now has a tumor and at the moment we can't afford to do anything about it. If you like the blogging we do here nearly every day, please consider a PayPal tip to go to Precious's medical fund. My family appreciates and I promise to continue offering pop culture goodness to the Networld for as long as I can. Thanks!
UPDATE: 5 AM, 3-20-08 Looks like we will be able to take care of Precious right away thanks to one amazing reader--PayPal tips, of course, are still appreciated as we continue to try to avoid depression so we can run this here blog without sounding too glum! Thank you to our personal superhero!!!

Badly Costumed Superhero of the Week

Okay, to be fair, LT. HERCULES here is supposed to be a parody. In fact, if you squint a little he aaaaaallmost looks like a skinny version of Herbie Popnecker's FAT FURY! HERBIE, by the way, is about to get a deluxe reprint version from Dark Horse. The Lieutenant here probably will not.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ashes to Ashes

I just now found out that the follow-up series to my favorite TV show of the past couple of years, LIFE ON MARS, has been airing across the pond for more than a month! ASHES TO ASHES—like its predecessor named after a David Bowie song—tells the story of Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes),a police hostage negotiator in modern day who is investigating Sam Tyler and his supposed delusions of having been in 1973. When she herself gets shot, she finds herself dealing with some of the same folks she read about in Sam’s files albeit this time in London, 1981!
As with LIFE ON MARS, the real grit of this show comes from Philip Glenister and his performance as Gene Hunt, rapidly becoming a cult figure I understand! It’s eight years later and Gene is reluctantly moving into more modern methods of police work (including an early computer! "It’s got Pong on it," he says). At heart, though, he’s still the hard-drinking, unrepentently sexist brawler he’s always been. When he transferred, he brought along compatriots Ray and Chris ( Dean Andrews and Marshall Lancaster) from the other show and the chemistry between the three is still there! Our heroine is convinced from the get-go that it’s all in her mind and can’t figure out why it all seems so real! Gene is convinced she's nuts.
There are huge plot holes (like how come the folks in 2008 couldn’t see Sam’s record of his police work in 1973 if he really had been there?) but with stylish camerawork, excellent performances, familiar eighties songs and a confusing but intriguing mystery that parallels the original series, ASHES TO ASHES sucks you right in!

For more information on ASHES TO ASHES, here's a link to the BBC's official site: BBC - Drama - Ashes to Ashes

Monday, March 17, 2008

Archie's Lucky Piece

Here's an ad from one of those SHADOW comics I referenced yesterday. Seeing as how it has four-leaf clovers, it seemed the only appropriate (although only marginally related) thing to run for St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 25

One could easily argue that the entire Archie Comics run of THE SHADOW from the early 1960's represents comic book weirdness! Instead of the grim avenger of the night, nerdy blond millionaire Lamont Cranston is secretly a government secret agent. When he takes off his glasses and puts on a cape he can hypnotize bad guys into thinking he's invisible. In later issues, his blond haircolor changes and he adds a pretty cool super suit but heck, he still ain't the Shadow. Anthony Tollin must cringe every time he thinks of this ultra-bland John Rosenberger-drawn version! I love this panel, though, where the cocky hero (a smoker yet!) blows off concern from his sidekick, the lovely Margo Lane (who in this version has no idea her secret agent boss is also the Shadow!).

Superman Says "Be a Good Citizen!"

This 1962 DC PSA is one I didn't recall so I'm thinking that maybe it wasn't printed in all the titles. I'm drawing a blank on the artist although I recognize the style of the kids in the "What th'..." panel. The dark haired one strongly resembles the kid in the famous "steak on the black eye" PSA from a few years later. The SUPERMAN figures, particularly the full body shot, seem traced from some standardized style sheet of the time so it's hard to tell from them. Steve? Sam?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Christa Helm Website

I've noticed an upswing in the folks coming to this blog using the keywords "Christa Helm." Longtime readers will recall Christa as an aspiring seventies starlet whose sole starring feature film literally fell through the cracks. She was murdered in 1977 and the case remains unsolved. These visitors check out a couple of the old (and now outdated in some cases) pages and then leave but they DON'T check out the link to the more extensive website John O'Dowd had put together to showcase our initial research. That would be this one here: The Unsolved Murder of 1970's Hollywood Starlet Christa Helm - Page 1 of 5If you have any interest at all in this fascinating story, please check it out. Also, let me assure you that the story is STILL unfolding even as we speak. For now, let's just say keep April 26th open.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ocean Master-Best Helmet Ever!

Originally appearing in mid-silver age AQUAMAN comics, the character of the Ocean Master was secretly Aquaman's fully human half-brother, thus creating some reluctance on our stolid hero's part to mess with him all that much. The important thing , though,was that he had a really cool helmet! As designed (presumably) by the great artist Nick Cardy--at his peak as a storyteller during the sixties--Ocean Master's helmet is the highlight of any issue it's in. Later artist's, like Don Newton seen here from the seventies revival, attempted to streamline and stylize the whole Ocean Master look but one simply cannot improve on perfection. Dr. Fate, Marvel's Black Knight, Thor, of course...all also-rans in my opinion, Ocean Master wins! Coolest. Helmet. Ever.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dave Stevens

I'm on my second day off work as I try to get used to new blood pressure meds so maybe that's why I'm having a tough time figuring out what to say about Dave Stevens who died the other day. He was a favorite of mine going all the way back to the seventies when I first saw some unpublished DOC SAVAGE panels and later some Chuck Norris art he did. I became enamored with his ROCKETEER and, around the same time (like many folks), with Bettie Page. Dave Stevens provided a number of covers for various comics during the big independent comics boom of the eighties and whether his covers featured pretty women, slimy monsters or cute puppies (or in some cases all three), they were the kind of covers you would linger over and remember long after the comics themselves. Never met him but I'm sadder knowing he's no longer out there. Thanks, Dave.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Golden Age of Wonder Woman Revisited-1966

Although oft-mentioned on this site, the big nostalgia boom of the 1960’s had not really hit in late 1965 when this issue of WONDER WOMAN with it's excessively wordy cover hit the stands. The camp craze that came with Batmania was still a couple of months away, also. Thus it now seems more than a bit confusing that Editor/Writer Robert Kanigher would opt for a return to WW’s Golden-Age roots with this issue. Longtime artists Andru and Esposito even began aping the more primitive art style of the feature’s original artist, Harry Peter. Essentially re-telling the original tales in a slightly more modern (meaning in this case less kinky) fashion, the attempted trend petered out after a few months and the character went high camp for awhile with the rest of her DC contemporaries.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 24

Hmmm... The "Green Hornet?"

Why green, I wonder? Can't have anything to do with the way he's dressed here...except for the oddly placed hornet symbol itself on his goofy mouthcovering mask. There is a rather obvious green jacket there in the closet but nooooooo! He opts to be the GREY Hornet! ...with a yellow scarf yet!

The Green Lama Club

Here's a 1942 ad for the GREEN LAMA CLUB, yet another tool to see just how many kids were buying that character's comic. Based on a radio hero who was, in fact, a rip-off of THE SHADOW, THE GREEN LAMA comic was known for having more adult art and stories than most comic books of the day (often by the great Mac Raboy) but nonetheless did not stand the test of time. The good news about that, though, is that it made the character ripe for Alex Ross's current WATCHMEN-style revival of the now public domain second and third strings heroes of the Golden Age, PROJECT SUPERPOWERS. Strongly Recommended!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Pictures at a Revolution

Behind its less than imposing cover photo of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION turns out to be arguably the best mainstream film history book in recent memory. In searching for that unique moment when "Old Hollywood" became "New Hollywood," author Mark Harris has focused on the six 1967 films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture the following year.
Of course, I don’t have to remind MY readers that those title pictures were IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, THE GRADUATE, BONNIE AND CLYDE, GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER and DOCTOR DOLITTLE. In the course of the book the reader is taken back to the early sixties when so much was already changing in politics, music, mores and social consciousness. Although late to the party, the stage was already set for a change in American film as World Cinema had long been pursuing more independent, less structured paths. From their individual conceptions, the making of each of the five seminal films is intercut with the background of a changing world. Ultimately, the author addresses their outcome and their impact on the critics, the public but—and most tellingly—the industry that made them.
Although certainly not a novel, Harris manages to introduce a number of quite memorable characters along the way among whom are:
Arthur P. Jacobs—An old-style producer who had been Marilyn Monroe’s agent and would later strike gold with the PLANET OF THE APES franchise.
Warren Beatty—The egotistical pretty-boy star who thought he could make better movies himself.
Jack Warner—Last of the old-time moguls, himself here being squeezed out by corporate takeover.
Mike Nichols—the one-time LP comedy star who was trying to prove he was more than a one-hit wonder as a director.
Sidney Poitier—Hollywood’s non-threatening idea of the perfect black man—a role with which he was not always content.
Rex Harrison—the bigger than life, stately, anti-semetic, alcoholic stage legend loved and hated by all (including his apparently mentally ill wife who would eventually commit suicide blaming Rex years after their divorce!).
Stanley Kramer—The heavy-handed producer with a conscience who was quickly being left behind and just didn’t get it.
Dustin Hoffman—Absolutely nobody’s idea of a leading man until he became the hottest find of the year!
Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn—The Old Hollywood screen team whose great behind-the-scenes romance is here de-mystified so that you see the great independent woman becoming completely submissive to her dying, abusive lover as the two struggle to deal with a new world both on and off-screen.
In mixing together all of these people and their struggles to complete what survives of these times—the films themselves--Harris has written a wonderfully evocative and most readable volume. PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION manages not to play favorites and although IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT eventually wins the Oscar, that is made out quite clearly NOT to be the point. By the time the award was presented, Jack Valenti had come out with the ratings system and the floodgates had opened for the permissiveness that would follow, none of which—good or bad—would have been possible without pioneering filmmakers such as the ones Harris has just told us all about in this fun, informative history.
In case anyone cares for my personal take on the movies discussed:
THE GRADUATE—I’m on record as enjoying Mike Nichols’ comedy but rarely his directing. THE GRADUATE is no exception. Some nice visuals and of course I love the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack but I find Buck Henry’s screenplay to be rambling and only randomly funny. The whole anti-establishment thing of it is lost on me and as charismatic as he is, Hoffman’s performance is drowned by the obscurity of the editing.
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT—An actor’s delight with Poitier’s strong Mister Tibbs character and Rod Steiger’s scene-stealing southern sheriff. The strong anti-racism stance of the tale is laced with welcome humor, memorable dialogue and bravura moments. The fact that its two follow-ups (not sequels) don’t work nearly as well show that it was the combination of elements that worked here.
GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER—I’ve never really known what to make of this. It really isn’t a good picture, looking cheap and setbound as it does and with its cliché characters and dialogue. It’s too preachy and not all that funny. Still, the performances of the leads are affecting, particularly that of the legendary Tracy who had died by the time the film was released and who genuinely, no sentiment needed, acts rings around most anybody else in the room. Impossible to ignore in any other context, Hepburn seems subjugated here and her real-life niece, Katherine Houghton is bland. Even as a child I couldn’t figure what Poitier’s oh-so-perfect doctor would see in her. On the other hand, Poitier’s character really does come across as a well-intentioned white man’s idea of a perfect black man. Hell, I’D marry the Sidney from GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER!
BONNIE AND CLYDE—I appreciate BONNIE AND CLYDE as a film a lot more than I actually like it. It’s stylish and stylized and one can clearly spot the international influence on its direction, cutting and cinematography. I even GET the anti-establishment angle of this one! For some reason the whole thing doesn’t quite mesh for me though. Not being a big fan of either of the leads might affect my thinking also, but Michael J. Pollard is always fun and I enjoy seeing Gene Wilder and Gene Hackman before they really became Gene Wilder and Gene Hackman!
DOCTOR DOLITTLE—This was the only one of these five movies that I saw on the big screen in their initial runs. Hey, what do you want? I was eight years old that year! I saw it at the Liberty Theater in Covington, Kentucky and I took my Pushmi-Pullyu toy I got in a box of CAPTAIN CRUNCH. I had DOCTOR DOLITTLE stickers all over stuff at home, too! I remember enjoying Anthony Newley’s character (something apparently Rex Harrison did NOT) and some of the individual scenes but even then being disappointed and wondering if the long, rambling plot was ever going to go somewhere. That said, DOCTOR DOLITTLE, one of the last of the big-budget, over-hyped musical flops of the era, is the only one of these films that I actually did buy years later. Nostalgia is a strange disease.
You know, in retrospect, I guess the cover of PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION works after all. It was most definitely a wild ride.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Moon Monster Ad

Not sure if these folks were trying to scare kids or what but it was the early 1970's, man had just landed on the moon in mankind's proudest triumph and here this ad comes along telling kids there were monsters there! My friend Terry actually joined this "club" but all they actually sent him was the Monster--a large black and white wall poster. Sigh. Can't trust anyone!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

R.I.P. Hurricane Smith

My mother's favorite song of 1972 had to be "Oh, Babe. What Would You Say," a surprisingly old-fashioned sounding hit by one Norman "Hurricane" Smith. Having heard it only sparingly over the past three decades, I still recall all of the lyrics and the unique vocal stylings of the artist himself. I even remember seeing Smith on television and thinking him yet another Tiny Tim!

What I didn't know at the time was that Norman Smith had been an engineer for the Beatles! In fact, along with producer George Martin, Norman Smith helped define the signature sound of the British Invasion! One could argue that he did this even moreso a few years later when he produced the Pretty Things' seminal concept album, S.F. SORROW (an acknowledged influence on the Who's Pete Townsend) and became the producer for Syd Barrett's early Pink Floyd, which, of course, piloted the musical road to the psychedelia that defined the end of that decade! Thus his quaint little hit of 1972, at the ripe old age of 49, seems all the more unusual. He was still performing into the 21st Century and the CD seen here came out just a couple of years ago containing new recordings and interviews.
Hurricane Smith died on March 3rd at the age of 85.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another Paypal Request

I know, I know. I hate to do this and you hate it when I do this. Believe me, I'd much rather be writing about THE VICAR OF DIBLEY, Dez Skinn's WARRIOR, THE BIG BANG THEORY, THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, Bogart postage stamps, Apollo 11, the upcoming IRON MAN movie, SSgt Barry Sadler, Gene Autry, new developments in the Christa Helm story, the new book PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION, Jack Benny's feud with Fred Allen or NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Or maybe thanking the inimitable Michael Netzer for saying very nice things about my wife and myself here:Michael Netzer Online - Thou Shalt Not Make Thyselves Any Toy Messiahs (and giving a long overdue plug to his campaign to save the Martian Manhunter!). Still reality sets in and with it depression from losing yet another bill to a collection agency. With my next check they're taking out more for medical insurance. Tried to sell some more comics but the market's down. Same with coins. To top it all off, we're sitting on a hundred thousand dollar house that my wife ended up with last year when her mother passed away but THAT market's down, too so for now that's just costing us also! Last month, we lost our Internet connection for more than a week. I don't want that to happen again so I come to you readers again asking for even a small tip in the PayPal tipbox. It all helps. Thanks.

Justin Green Exhibit

One of the first folks we wrote about here at the Library was Justin Green, the legendary underground cartoonist whom I had the pleasure of meeting when I worked at Barnes and Noble a few years back. Absolutely the highlight of my entire B&N experience!

Here in Cincinnati where Mr. Green has continued to draw strips while practicing traditional sign-painting, a local music store, SHAKE IT RECORDS, will be presenting a Justin Green exhibit and show from March 8 through March 12. If you are anywhere in the tri-state area this weekend (and not working like I am, unfortunately) it would seem to be THE place for a true comics aficionado to be! Go here: Welcome to Shake It Records, for more details.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Another Facebook friend we wrote about recently was author Marc Tyler Nobleman whose book on Siegel and Shuster is coming soon! Marc has just started his own blog, Noblemania, in which he details his meticulous research on BOYS OF STEEL and other projects. Check out Noblemania!

Erica Doering Again

We wrote about delightful stand-up comic Erica Doering and her hosting duties as Compost Brite in Jerry Beck and Frank Coniff's CARTOON DUMP productions awhile back. Due to the at times surreal nature of the Internet, Erica has since become one of my Facebook friends! Here's a link to an informative, just published interview with her at Sequential Tart: The Un-Visible Woman (vol XI/iss 3/March 2008). Here also is a link to Erica Doering's Comedy on YouTube! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Tom Mix Mini-gun magnet watch fob compass bracelet thingie

We've noted her before that Tom Mix, in spite of his death in 1940, continued to inspire some of the coolest collectibles of their day throughout the 1940's. Here, for example is a nifty l'il mini-gun on a chain that doubles as a compass, triples as a powerful magnet and can also be used as a watch fob, a charm for a charm bracelet, a lie detector, an I-Pod, and a Boy Scout knife!!! Okay, I was kidding about the last couple of things on there...I think. Still, gotta hand it to the marketing boys at Ralston who kept Tom under contract loooong after his death.

Kirby: King of Comics

This is not a review but an unabashed plug. When Jack Kirby’s friend and former assistant Mark Evanier, the acknowledged expert on all things Kirby, writes a book about his mentor it is, for all intents and purposes, review-proof. If you’ve ever loved anything about comics and comic book art, just buy it now. The form as we have come to know it simply would not have existed without Kirby. I've just finished enjoying a loaner copy of the brand new book, KIRBY: KING OF COMICS. This impressive coffee table volume details the story of the tough street kid who quickly developed an innate sense of dynamic storytelling through art and whose imagination grew by leaps and bounds to the point where it literally had no end! Aliens, Gods, heroes, monsters and worlds beyond worlds!

Straightforward in spots and anecdotal in others, the text is all just a warm-up for Evanier’s still-upcoming in-depth biography of Kirby. What this book is really about is the artwork! Oversized, incredibly detailed reproduction lets you see all the pencil lines and white paint and paste-ups on both classic and previously unpublished illustrations. KIRBY: KING OF COMICS is a pure celebration of its subject and while long-time fans have seen and read some of this before, it’s great to see it done up so nicely in a mainstream book targeted not at the fan market but at "real" bookstores! So much of our pop culture today has been inspired by Kirby in one way or another, it's about time the general public got to know him! Bravo, Mark! Jack would be proud!