Friday, December 31, 2010

A Geek's Journal-1976

In 1976, I was a depressed sixteen year old comic book geek who loved movies old and new and Beatles music...and I decided to keep a journal. My newest blog, A GEEK'S JOURNAL--1976, debuts tomorrow morning. The forward into the past concept of this endeavor is..."What if there had been blogs in 1976?" I most certainly would have had one and this would probably have been it. Starting tomorrow and for the next year, I will post my journal entries daily as I decipher my ancient handwriting.

As in real life--which it was--some days will be more interesting than others as you follow me on my journey into my high school senior year. Being a pop culture geek even then, there will be talk of movies, TV, music, comics and now-classic TV series. Being a 16 year old male, there will also be talk of girls...although I really didn't know any at the time so don't get your hopes up.

From time to time I will annotate for clarification. A few names will be changed here and there just because and I reserve the right to edit if I feel the need for whatever reason but essentially this will be it: life as it happened for young booksteve! This is a retro blog unlike any you've ever seen. I hope you'll give it a try and see where I end up at the end of that pivotal, Bicentennial year of 1976.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Love the Way You Lie-Eminem with Rihanna

Living in the past as I tend to do, I am not a big rap fan nor do i particularly care who is or isn't on the charts or played on the radio these days. The lovely Brittany Rose, however, has programmed my car stereo so that I do on occasion find myself listening to...and perhaps surprisingly enjoying...some modern music. Here's one I heard for the first time yesterday. The message seems a bit mixed but the video has some cool scenes and one can't deny the catchiness and clever wording of the lyrics.

La Cage Aux Folles-Lee Roy Reams-1993

Here we see this year's Kennedy Center honoree Jerry Herman's title song from Broadway's LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, performed wonderfully by Lee Roy Reams, arguably the biggest star ever to come out of Covington, Kentucky. Hometown boy makes good!

Dick Tracy From Pencil to Paper

This video appears to be an early nineties clip from some sort of children's show. We see artist Dick Locher penciling and inking a DICK TRACY Sunday strip and making a color guide, then we see the various stages of coloring and printing required (at that time at least) to get it to the newspaper.

Spike Milligan-1970 Clips

Another definite candidate for the funniest man who ever lived title is Spike Milligan, seen here in a handful of 1970 clips.

Topo Gigio-Strangers in the Night

Looking at him now--especially if you weren't there in the sixties--it's hard to grasp just how amazingly popular this little mouse was around the world in the era of the Beatles!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Stan Lee!

Word spreads around the blogosphere that today is once again--as it is every year--the birthday of the one and only Stan the Man Lee. Stan often gets a bad rap from the either/or fanboys who feel compelled to choose Lee or Kirby or Lee or Ditko. The thing is that Lee was working in comics for two whole decades before the Marvel Universe came along. And he has continued to be creative now for more than another three decades after his day to day involvement with comics ended. As Mark Evanier and others have pointed out today, Stan Lee's greatest creation is undoubtedly Stan Lee, the exuberant elder statesman and spokesperson for pop culture as we know it in our world today! Would that we could all have such life as we grow older!

On the day my long-deceased father joined the army in WWII, Stan Lee was already working in the comics industry. He was still there the day I was born, the day I got married, the day my own son was born and he is, today, without a doubt, more famous than anyone ever associated with comics! Earlier this year, when I called another artist on the phone, he told me that he had just let Stan Lee go so he could speak with me! I have never in my life felt so important! Thanks for everything, Mr. Lee.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: Shazam! by Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear

Well, Shazam! Friend Brittany Rose (see our other blog) got me this well-receieved new book by Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear for Christmas.

I can see where some might be disappointed to find it isn't a collection of stories featuring the original Captain Marvel but not me. This is exactly what I expect from Chip Kidd, all done up in his trademark design style. It's a celebration not of the classic Fawcett stories but of the world and the legend of the so-called Big Red Cheese beyond the comics themselves. The movie serial, the fan club, various premiums and toys, toys, toys! That's what this book is about. There are some original art scans and exactly one complete story--a rare one by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby of all things!

Along the way, you'll pick up bits and pieces of the history of Fawcett Comics, the Marvel Family and even some of the other Fawcett heroes such as Spy Smasher (of whom the text erroneously claims that he never teamed up with Captain Marvel beyond the occasional WHIZ COMICS cover. In point of fact, there is a famous early serial that ran several issues in both characters' story slots in which Marvel has to stop a hypnotized Spy Smasher who is actually working AGAINST America!). All in all, it's a quick read but one you'll return to over and over to revel in the long lost time when the World's Mightiest Mortal was the most popular of all superheroes!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Where's Kip?

Since the late Kip King, in spite of a career that lasted more than 50 years on stage and screen in Hollywood, probably won't make the annual year-end necrologies, I thought I'd offer just one more tribute to him here. I was watching a video of ABC's 1974 Fall Previews this morning over at when I noticed Charlie Brill, an old friend of Kip's that I was able to connect him up with again before he fell ill. This made me think of Kip. Then, in the very next scene...there's Kip himself in the back seat of a carpool excitedly extolling the virtues of Clint Walker's then-new series, KODIAK. Two shots of that clip are below. I'm not sure he even remembered this bit as he once provided me with a list of his TV appearances (in the hopes that I could find some for him). It was much longer than what IMDB has but still didn't have this on it. Above is Kip about a decade earlier in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. I recently spotted him in a small but pivotal role in WESTWORLD, also (he's the one who says, "I think something's wrong.") Kip may have left us this year but he keeps turning up. Where will he be next? Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Funniest Man Who Ever Lived? # 1--Peter Cook

From time to time I catch myself thinking that "so & so" must be the funniest man who ever lived. Going forward, I shall share some of those folks who pop to my mind in that capacity. First up, Peter Cook, who left us 6 years ago on my birthday.

Friday, December 24, 2010

MeRrY ChRiStMaS!

Seems like this past year, "Everything's Archie." So why not Christmas?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

National Lampoon Comics

Time for another random book off the shelf here at the Library. Today's selection is 1974's NATIONAL LAMPOON COMICS. Technically marketed as a magazine at the time, this is, by anyone's definition, in reality a thick, square-bound book gathering together many of the best of the comics, Foto Funnies and other comics-related material that had been published in NatLamp until that point.

The only new material here in this seventh collection from the now-classic satire magazine of the seventies is a brief introduction shouting the virtues of Michael Gross, the comics loving Art Director who is credited with putting the mag on the map but who, at the time of publication, had just left for other pastures.

What we do have is quite a choice collection that includes some of my favorite comics pieces such as:

G. GORDON LIDDY, AGENT OF C.R.E.E.P. with a parody cover by Marvel's Sgt Fury artist Dick Ayers and art by S.H.I.E.L.D. artist Frank Springer (under a pseudonym).

THIRD WORLD THRILLS drawn by Gray Morrow.

THE ADVENTURES OF DEADMAN (not THAT one!) by Henry Beard, Dick Giordano and Neal Adams.

CRASH CHRISTIAN by Michael (early SNL's "Mr. Mike") O'Donoghue and Springer, a team noted for the early serialized adult graphic novel, THE ADVENTURES OF PHOEBE ZEIT-GEIST.

THE VENTURES OF ZIMMERMAN, a Bob Dylan parody drawn by Adams.

Add to that some color pages of CHEECH WIZARD from the late, great Vaughn Bode, whose work I first discovered in this mag. You'll find some of the great esoteric and avant-garde Jeff Jones strip, IDYL, some amazing old-style cartooning from Shary Flenniken on TROTS AND BONNIE and also Gahan Wilson, Charles Rodriguez, former Wally Wood sidekick Ralph Reese, future POPEYE artist Bobby London and the minimalist stylings of Ed Subitzky. Add to that the bountiful babes of the Foto Funnies (with appearances by Gross, Tony Hendra and others) and, perhaps best of all, NATIONAL LAMPOON's infamous (as the cover describes it) and devastating (as I describe it)parody of MAD.

I'll admit that at age 15, this cover attracted me as much as anything else but I look through the rest of it now and I am amazed at the material therein. I certainly had no clue that in the next century I would find myself Facebook friends with Michael Gross, Neal Adams, Shary Flenniken and Jeff (now Catherine) Jones. Bobby London and I have mutual friends and I have heard from Ralph Reese in relation to my Wally Wood blog. Gray Morrow, of course, is the subject of another of my blogs. I have a funny story about P.J. O'Rourke, also--listed as Executive Editor at the time. It was from a time he was the guest speaker at a Waldenbooks Managers meeting in the eighties. Never known if it was true or just gossip, however, so I'll keep quiet on that one.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Black Terror Ad

As a public domain superhero, the Black Terror has been revived several times in recent years by various companies with varying results. Here. however, is the original model from a vintage 1940's ad.

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Canadian Captain Marvel-1942

By popular demand, here's another of the 1942 CAPTAIN MARVEL stories originally published only in Canada. These were printed in the US in TBG, the comics newspaper, in the early seventies. This time, I've cleaned the pages up a bit, lost the faded newsprint look and darkened where possible so the fine lines don't fade away. I think there's one more I still have.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

B Westerns

My dad loved westerns and was always talking about them. I got to see the tail end of the TV western boom of the fifties with ZORRO, MAVERICK and SUGARFOOT and was able to keep watching Roy Rogers reruns on Saturday afternoons well into the sixties. Along the way, I enjoyed CIMMARON STRIP, THE HIGH CHAPPERAL and GUNSMOKE (when it wasn’t taking itself too seriously). I grew up watching John Wayne, Randolph Scott and James Stewart movies on Sunday afternoons and we’d still head to the theater at least once a year for a new movie with Duke!

But there were others he spoke of that I never saw--Buck Jones, Col Tim McCoy, the Three Mesquiteers, Johnny Mack Brown, Tim Holt, Bob Steele, Allan “Rocky” Lane, Bill Boyd, Rex Bell, Rex Allen, Monte Hale, Whip Wilson, Lash LaRue and Gene Autry.

Finally, in the mid-seventies, a local TV station bought a movie package that introduced me to many of these Saturday matinee heroes of the past! Tim Holt and Buck Jones became my all-time favorites quickly but the station also ran George O’Brien and Tom Keene. Later on, due to popular demand, they picked up the Rough Riders series and the Three Mesquiteers…even some of John Wayne’s musical westerns as “Singin’ Sandy!” Seriously!

Maybe B westerns are an acquired taste in this world today. After all, if you’ve seen any four, you’ve probably seen them all. Only the personalities carry the films—the stalwart heroes, the comic relief sidekicks and all the great character actors (like Tris Coffin and Clayton Moore—yes, THAT Clayton Moore) who played the bad guys. Oh, and there were girls, too…but never mind them, there were HORSES! Not JUST horses, mind you but WONDER horses! Every cowboy hero somehow had the best horse EVER!

If you have never yet sampled B westerns, I envy you. Go into it with an open mind and they are a LOT of fun...even the C Westerns! If you’re an old-style cowboy buff, you can find a whole range (pun intended) you can order from us at very inexpensive prices including some RARE Roy Rogers and silent westerns! A portion of every sale goes to support this blog.

Flip and Curly Meet the Vampire

Here we have yet another of of my unrealized projects. Dating from the 1980's, this would have been a radio series that parodied classic radio and other adventure plots. The focus would have been on 1940's teenagers Flip Flinch and Curly Temple, both of the "Golly gee whiz!" type, who were constantly getting into trouble in their small town with spies, monsters, aliens, etc. Chance Drake was their next door neighbor and adult mentor, a classic archetype but somewhat clueless when it came to what was really going on around town. Margo Street was his faithful companion. Flip and Curly, meanwhile, lived with their eccentric grandfather, Gramps, a scientist who claimed he had invented a time machine. No one believed him, of course, but around that same time, an odd young man with long hair, bright clothes and an anachronistically groovy style of speech moved in to the spare room in the Flinch attic. He described himself as a "cool cat" and his name was Felix so Flip starts calling him "Felix the Cat."Meanwhile, in the old abandoned castle at the edge of town...strange doings were afoot.

With my interest in old-time radio at an early peak, I suppose it was a natural to try to interest local stations in a new series but no one was. In spite of Stan Freberg's famous commercial demonstrating the amazing things one can do on radio that can't be done on television, the local stations--even the ones playing OTR--were just completely uninterested. To be fair, when WVXU once did its own OTR style program, it took them a month or more to write, cast and produce it and then it was extremely slow and badly acted. In the old days, there were scores writers, producers and actors turning out better product weekly or sometimes (as in the case of, say, THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, five days a week!

So somewhere, I have an introductory partial script for FLIP & CURLY and I'll always have a fondness for the idea...but this is about as far as it will ever get.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Captain Hero Pin-up-1967

Sometimes it's hard to identify an Archie artist but I'm going to speculate that this great 1967 pin-up of Jughead as Captain Hero might be by Bill Vigoda.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks # 64

Seriously, can you imagine a group of actors in 1974 that could be as bland as Charles Grodin, Candice Bergen, James Mason and John Gielgud? Seriously. I ask you! 11 HARROWHOUSE brought them all together that year in a British adaptation of a suspense thriller by author Gerald Browne. I never read the book but since it was fairly popular, I'm going to presume the characters weren't as dull in the original.

The plot deals with Grodin as a diamond cutter who loses a particularly important diamond to thieves who then use it to blackmail him into using his expertise (and his girlfriend) to get them even more diamonds. Oh, and then there's a cockroach. I hate cockroaches.

11 HARROWHOUSE received mostly positive press at the time of its release but was apparently issued in two versions--one with Grodin's character doing a running voiceover and one without, a la the later BLADE RUNNER.

Star Grodin had been a small-time TV actor who suddenly had hit it big two years earlier in Elaine May's THE HEARTBREAK KID. This was his next released vehicle in which he was also credited with "adaptation" of the script.

Speaking of Elaine May, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's beautiful but fairly vacuous daughter Candice had been eye candy in a handful of movies since 1966's THE GROUP but really got noticed in cartoonist Jules Feiffer's 1971 CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, coincidentally directed by May's old comedy partner, Mike Nichols.

Actor James Mason had once been the well-respected villain of Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST but more recently had been appearing in vehicles such as Burgess Meredith's THE YIN AND THE YANG OF MR. GO (Jeff Bridges's first real film appearance) and Eurotrash action thrillers such as KILL, KILL, KILL (aka KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL) with Stephen Boyd and Curt Jurgens.

One of the greatest stage actors of the 20th century, Sir John Gielgud had worked steadily in films for years but without ever attaining that same level of respect. Most of his roles were small and his vehicles were often either stodgy literary adaptations or particularly poor choices such as that legendary train wreck of a movie that is CALIGULA.

What's perhaps most interesting is that all of these actors went on to prove that they were NOT as bland as they seemed at the time of 11 HARROWHOUSE. Mason stepped into Claude Rains' shoes when he played the dry comedic angel Mister Jordan in Warren Beatty's popular 1978 remake of HERE COMES MISTER JORDAN, HEAVEN CAN WAIT. After that, he was appearing in A list movies again including as Watson to Christopher Plummer's Holmes in MURDER BY DECREE as well as opposite actors such as Gregory Peck, Paul Newman and Sir Laurence Olivier in other films.

Gielgud finally became a well-known film star late in life after his role as a condescending butler in the Dudley Moore/Liza Minnelli romantic comedy, ARTHUR, netted him an unexpected Oscar! He continued to perform regularly until his mid-nineties and died in the year 2000.

Charles Grodin appeared in a series of forgettable films, usually comedies, for many years but also became a surprisingly popular guest on TV talk shows which, eventually, led to him getting his own TV talk show which was, for a while, quite popular.

Undoubtedly the biggest revelation in all of this was Candice Bergen. After years of more forgettable performances in what should have been major films such as THE WIND AND THE LION with Sean Connery, Candice decided to try her hand at television and ended up as the star of an ensemble comedy called MURPHY BROWN...and she was FUNNY! Who knew? In fact, she developed a style so different from her earlier acting range that she gained legions of new fans (excluding Dan Quayle), won a number of awards, is regularly named as one of THE great sitcom characters on one of THE great sitcoms of its era and went on to continued popularity in other venues including most recently, BOSTON LEGAL.

So in the end, 11 HARROWHOUSE itself is not a bad movie...just a dull movie made at least a little more interesting by watching the stars you know are all going to be so much better elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Captain Marvel and the Lie Detector-Canada-1942

Odds are that unless you were in Canada in 1942 or a subscriber to THE BUYERS GUIDE FOR COMICS FANDOM in 1973, you have never seen this CAPTAIN MARVEL story no matter how big a fan you might be of the Big Red Cheese. In the early seventies, around the time DC brought back SHAZAM, TBG began running some old stories in their entirety that DC would never have printed. These included some with Billy's stereotype "valet" and comic relief, Steamboat, as well as a handful of not bad tales that had been crafted solely for the Canadian market! I used to keep all of my TBG issues (and later CBG issues) in the closet but over the years this became a big and rather ominous firetrap so about twenty years ago I went through them and clipped or ripped out a couple of boxes of fun, informative, nostalgic or important pages. Now, through the modern miracle of scanning, I can pass them on to you! Oddly enough, looking at this story now it reminds me of nothing less than Mick Anglo's original UK MARVELMAN tales, currently being reprinted by Marvel and themselves originally based on...CAPTAIN MARVEL.

Apologies for the few tears and blurs and the illegible panels on page two which were apparently that way in the original printing. Hope you enjoyed it. I have a few more if anyone's interested. Let me know.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review-Wanted Undead or Alive

This is a tough review because WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman isn't a bad book. It isn't a good book either, though. It just isn't really much of a book at all. It certainly isn't the book I was led to believe it would be.

Subtitled "Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil," WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, from its cover to its advance press, proclaims itself to be a survey of real and fictional hunters of supernatural evil through the years. There is some of that in there but there's a lot more also that happens to be only peripherally related. There's a fairly straightforward philosophical history of good and evil (with funny footnotes), a long section detailing the names and crimes of real world serial killers, a color illustration section consisting mostly of fantasy paintings and a scattershot look at pop culture good guys and bad guys from the Shadow and Doc Savage to Buffy, Angel and Hellboy. There's sections on Chinese spirits and Taoist exorcisms, cosplay, mythology, Celtic legends, FBI profiling and TV-style ghost hunting. In other words, this book tries too hard.

What's there is good, all written in a light, breezy style in mostly short sections, almost like one of the popular bathroom trivia books. The authors seem learned in all of their subjects and one does put the book down feeling as though it has been informative if not educational. It's just that reading it in one sitting made me feel like I had just read about 25 smaller books, many of which didn't really interest me to the point where I would have read them on their own.

Co-author Jonathan Maberry, btw, is a horror and comics author of some note who happens to have a busy but most enjoyable blog that you can find here:
Ms. Bashman's site can be found here:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Brenda Starr Trailer-1986/1992

The BRENDA STARR comic strip is in the news this week with the announcement of its retirement after 7 decades. Here's the horribly camped up trailer for the Brooke Shields/Timothy Dalton film version (as opposed to the Jill St John TV pilot of the seventies). Apparently shot in 1986, it was six years later before the picture was released and then barely at that.

Burger Chef Commercial-1976

I rarely ate at McDonalds and literally had never eaten at Burger King in the seventies. One reason for this was that there was a Burger Chef just a block away at the end of the alley by my house. Their mascots were Burger Chef and Jeff. the former being voiced in TV ads by the great voice actor, Paul Winchell, probably best remembered as the voice of Tigger!

Ultraman Zero-Trailer

Here's a brief teaser trailer for ULTRAMAN ZERO, the 2010 deluxe ULTRAMAN feature film that reunites all the various Ultramen as well as darn near every monster they ever fought! It's a fun movie with great spfx and an obviously good-sized budget but one does have to learn to accept the traditional conceit of rubber suited heroes and monsters. For those of us who grew up on this stuff, that part's easy.

The Mad Russian/The Two Jackies/The Ghost and the Guest

A trio of B movie trailers from the 1940's includes radio comic Bert Gordon's silly mystery vehicle as THE MAD RUSSIAN, a comedy starring two former child actors often confused with each other--Jackie Coogan and Jackie Cooper--and a third low budget spook comedy entitled THE GHOST AND THE GUEST. I love these cheap, short features and wish they would turn up much more often than they do!

Jack Benny Meets Isaac Hayes-1973

From JACK BENNY'S FIRST FAREWELL SPECIAL in 1973, here's a truncated version of the "Theme From Shaft" by the cooler than cool Isaac Hayes, followed by some typical variety show clowning that juxtaposes oddly the great, iconic comedian with the then modern day musician. He'd come a long way since Phil Harris and Bob Crosby.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yoe Books-For Your Holiday Consideration

As many of you may know, I have been unofficially associated with author Craig Yoe over the past year or so as a member of his International Team of Comics Historians. During this period, Craig and his partner in crime, Clizia Guzzoni, also established their own imprint through IDW and have turned out a number of worthy collections of comics reprints and history, a number of which I’ve actually enjoyed the privilege of working on. Although my involvement on some went only as far as to make sure the pages were in the right order, on others I did some writing, research and more. It’s easy to look at these books and say there’s nothing new here—it’s all been done before. But seriously, with Craig’s design background, has it ever been done so well?

With Christmas nipping at our doorsteps even as we speak, let’s take a look back at Yoe Books’ prolific first year for some gift ideas, shall we?

The first book to bear the Yoe Books imprint was THE ART OF DITKO. Following on the heels of Blake Bell’s unauthorized Ditko biography, THE ART OF DITKO offers a selection of rarely seen but endlessly creative and inventive stories from the man who (okay, I’ll say it) created SPIDER-MAN. There’s some original art, some annotation and some fascinating insights on the artist from others including Stan Lee and Craig himself, for whom Ditko once did some work. All of the stories are shot sharply from the original comics as is a Yoe trademark, giving it, in my opinion, a much more archival feel than bleached out, retouched reprints.

Next came what must be called the gem of the collection thus far—THE COMPLETE MILT GROSS COMIC BOOKS AND LIFE STORY. An important but neglected figure in the history of Jews in 20th Century pop culture and humor, the innovative cartoonist is here given his due with reprints of his later comic book work and, more importantly, a well researched and heavily illustrated biography. Touted by everyone from PLAYBOY to BOING-BOING and appearing in the background just this week on CONAN, this is an important addition to comics research as well as to Jewish history…but let’s not forget, Milt Gross was damn funny! While the comics collected here may be well past his newspaper prime, they are still laugh out loud funny. If you have yet to discover the joys of banana oil, this is where you need to start!

TIGER TEA is a small, gifty collection of George Herriman’s KRAZY KAT, that beloved yet incomprehensible comic strip that thrived in the early part of the 20th Century, particularly amongst the cognoscenti. The book was criticized for not being a complete reprint but it was never intended to be. Craig has edited together months and months of individual strips pertaining to an ongoing storyline in which Krazy discovers “tiger tea,” a metaphorical marijuana. In what I thought an exceedingly clever move, the book is printed on hemp paper. I have never been a big fan of the Kat, Ignatz mouse and Offisa Pupp but you’ll find them all here and quite frankly, this was the most enjoyment I’ve ever gotten out of the Kokonino County gang.

DAN DECARLO’S JETTA came next, reviving a little known sci-fi teenager from the artist’s pre-Archie days of the early fifties. DeCarlo is enjoying a revival all around these days as more and more fans come to realize that his now ubiquitous style is one of THE classic comic art styles…and no one did it better, of course, than DeCarlo himself. The book reprints the entire original run of the comics along with the cover to an unpublished final issue. There are also a series of pin-up style portraits by modern artists that round out the futuristic nostalgia nicely.

THE GOLDEN COLLECTION OF KRAZY KOOL KIDS KOMICS is a favorite of mine. It’s an eclectic collection of children’s stories from the 1940’s onward with art by an amazing selection of legends that includes Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, Walt Kelly, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Dr. Seuss, Syd Hoff, Jules Feiffer, Harvey Kurtzman, Dave Berg, John Stanley and Howie Post. This thick volume is fun for adults both as nostalgia and just as a selection of rare and fun stories. It would be even more fun to read to children just like back in the old days. As always, the packaging is also quite impressive.

After this came more kids komics with FELIX-THE GREAT COMIC BOOK TAILS, bringing back long forgotten comic book stories of the feline who was once the most famous cartoon character in the entire world! Gathered from various companies in the forties and fifties, these are fun, inventive and often surreal adventures, augmented by one of Craig’s heavily illustrated historical essays.

I wish I could tell you something in particular about Craig’s BARNEY GOOGLE book—especially since it was one of the ones I helped on—but I haven’t seen a copy! Obviously, it deals with Billy DeBeck and his highly influential strip starring the man with the goo-goo-googly eyes. I have every reason to believe that it lives up to the high standards of the rest of the Yoe Books.

Just in time for Halloween came DICK BRIEFER’S FRANKENSTEIN, another favorite. Briefer is one of those artists whose work was clearly better than most and yet has been nearly forgotten over time. Although he worked in various genres, his crowning achievement was FRANKENSTEIN—both versions. Briefer originally depicted the monster as villain in a series of sometimes gory stories that saw him fighting superheroes and killing people. Along the way, however, he morphed the series into FRANKENSTEIN, THE MERRY MONSTER, a Jack Cole style humorous run that set a precedent for all of the subsequent monster comedies of later years including TV’s MUNSTERS. Then, during the fifties horror boom, he returned the character to his monstrous roots only now with better-written stories. Yoe’s book, again with a nice behind-the-scenes look at Briefer and his pet monster, has a nice selection from both versions of the classic monster.

Just out is THE GREAT TREASURY OF CHRISTMAS COMIC BOOK STORIES, more-or-less a holiday continuation of the Kids Komics book. The usual suspects are all here—Walt Kelly, John Stanley, etc. The unexpected treats are some rare comics from prolific children’s book author and illustrator Richard Scarry and some surprisingly delightful and notable holiday presents drawn by Eisner protégé Klaus Nordling.

Not bad for a first year, eh? And there are still more to come. Next up should be ARCHIE: SEVEN DECADES OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE TEENAGERS AND BEYOND. This is one where I did quite a bit of work to the point where I share a “Produced by” credit. I’ve seen a mock-up and although it’s been sadly delayed at the last minute and won’t make the Christmas season, this is one that—if I dare say it myself—is worth the wait!

Then there’s POPEYE: THE GREAT COMIC BOOK TALES OF BUD SAGENDORF, another enjoyable collection I’ve seen already in mock-up. Yoe Books still in the pipeline include an anthology from ARCHIE’S MAD HOUSE, a celebration of 3-D comics and a collection of BARNEY BEAR stories by the great duck artist, Carl Barks.

All of the Yoe Books volumes are attractively designed and packaged and make a not only essential but also aesthetically pleasing addition to the bookshelves of any serious comics fan. Order your copies from the links on this page. Thanks, Craig and Clizia! Keep ‘em coming!

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