Sunday, February 28, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
I finally figured out how to crop things in IPhoto so we're back after nearly a month with new random panels! This one features the Golden Age Superman and one of his--believe it or not--arch-enemies, W. C. Fields....Err...I mean, J. Wilbur Wolfingham! Wolfingham was an old-school Fieldsian con man...a long way from Mongul and Doomsday or even Terra-Man! Blub!
Thursday, February 25, 2010
It was December of 1991 and all was not well. I was driving my wife's car when the brakes and steering both locked up on a hill, on a curve, in heavy traffic. Within days of that my father died after sixteen months in a nursing home. The next evening, I got a phone call asking for me by name and I said, "What did I do, now?"
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
THE STARLOST, co-created but written off by Harlan Ellison, was heavily touted at the time but since it was a syndicated program in the US, it was never picked up by any of my local stations. Thus I never saw a single episode until this past year when I saw the pilot (which featured a fun performance by Sterling Hayden that contrasted greatly with the wooden performances of the leads including 2001 star Keir Dullea). What we have here appears to be a promo film sent around to local stations to help sell it. I can see why no one bought it now.
Ralph Bakshi got his start working on this late TerryToons TV series in the sixties. Similar to DC's INFERIOR FIVE, the heroes were all rather inept but their hearts were in the right place and Diaper Man, Cuckoo Man, Rope Man, Strong Man and Tornado Man eventually got the job done!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Here is a copy of today's official press release detailing the spruced up and prettified opening of I.T.C.H. where for some time now you can find my more-or-less daily column of comics-oriented links (as praised by no less than Dave Gibbons!). I say "more-or-less daily" because it always seems that for one reason or another I miss it on days like today when there's an official press release or something! Timing. I am cursed to appreciate good timing and yet have none. Look for me back there first thing tomorrow, though. I've got the ITCH. Have you?
For Immediate Release:
They’ve Got the ITCH!--Comics History Group Blog Debuts.
The International Team of Comics Historians (I.T.C.H.) announces a new fascinating group blog: THE ITCH BLOG http://theITCHblog.com
This week is the grand opening of the blog! Built on the backs of the late, popular Arf Lovers Blog, and with a soft opening over the last few weeks, The ITCH Blog is now in full force! Bloggers include Tom Heintjes, publisher of “Hogan’s Alley.” His first post this week features the sexy girly cartoons of Paul Murry, the famed Mickey Mouse comic book artist.
Every Tuesday, D.J. David B specializes in presenting audio recordings of rare rock songs about comic characters. This week ITCH’s resident DJ spins something unusual, an audio recording featuring “The New Yorker” cartoonist James Thurber’s “The Unicorn in the Garden.”
On an amazing daily basis, “Book Steve” Thompson turns readers on to the latest, greatest links to interesting comics history-oriented items on the Web.
Net Thursday, Beth Davies will be interviewing Trina Robbins about her recent book on cartoonist Nell Brinkley.
The world’s expert on Victorian Age comics, Doug Wheeler chimes in with a delightful cartoon related to the Olympics by cartoonist/fine artist Walt Kuhn.
Every hump day will be the bizarre Wacky Wonder Woman Wednesday, showcasing weird photos of beautiful women to ugly men who persist in dressing like the Amazon princess.
The ITCH Blog team is soon to be joined by animation expert J.J. Sedelmaier and political cartoon historian David Donihue. Other comics historians from around the world from Denmark to Italy and beyond are itching to get involved and are gearing up to participate in the exciting endeavor!
The ITCH Blog and the I.T.C.H. organization are founded by Craig Yoe, who “Vice” magazine calls, “The Indiana Jones of Comics Historians.” The blog is sponsored by Yoe Books!, an imprint of IDW, that recently published “The Art of Ditko” and is about to release “The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story.” Yoe says, “We’ve just scratched the surface on The ITCH Blog and I’m thrilled that such luminaries are gathering together to share arcane knowledge and treasured rarities from the comics.”
Visit the blog at http://theITCHblog.com and please help spread the word. Thanks!
I suppose this was inevitable but I can't help wondering how ironic it is in light of Siegel and Shuster's well-known money troubles over the character. Superman's ACTION COMICS # 1 debut just sold to some idiot for One Million Dollars! I love comics more than just about anything but if I had a million dollars there are a hell of a lot more interesting and socially acceptable things I could do with it than pay that much for a comic book---especially one that even if I did dare to actually open it, I'd find the Man of Steel's short first appearance and a bunch of amazingly forgettable and not very well-done back-up stories. Historically important, yes. Good? No. I'm sure this copy is slabbed, however, and the guy will never even see the interior. Sigh. What has this hobby come to?
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
One of the benefits of my new Mac is that my ROLLING STONE Magazine CD’s purchased a couple years back—which never seemed to work on my PC for some reason and only partly on my wife’s laptop—work GREAT! Thus I have access to nearly 40 years of rock and social history as it happened so expect to see and read some bits here as we go along.
This morning, for instance, I came across an October, 1969 issue with George Harrison ‘s thoughts on the then-upcoming new Beatles album, ABBEY ROAD. They had recorded for the last time as a group but ABBEY ROAD and the earlier LET IT BE were still unreleased and the Fab Four had not yet officially split.
What did George have to say about it? I’m glad you asked.
The so-called “quiet Beatle” describes the now classic COME TOGETHER as “…an upbeat, rock-a-beat boogie, with very Lennon lyrics” and “…one of the nicest things we’ve done musically.”
His humble description of his masterpiece, SOMETHING? “When I recorded it, I imagined someone like Ray Charles doing it, that was the feel I thought it should have. But because I’m not Ray Charles—I’m much more limited in what I can do—we just did what we could. It’s nice, though. Probably the nicest melody I’ve ever written.”
He called it right on MAXWELL’S SILVER HAMMER. “We
spent a hell of a lot of time recording this one. It’s one of those instant, whistle-along tunes which some people will hate and others will love.” He added that it’s “…a fun sort of thing, but probably sick as well…”
While noting the fifties feel of McCartney’s OH, DARLING, George says that “…mainly it’s Paul shouting.”
Perhaps he read too much into Ringo’s pleasant throwaway, OCTOPUS’S GARDEN, saying, “On the surface, it’s a daft kids song but I find the lyrics very meaningful. I find very deep meaning in the lyrics which Ringo probably doesn’t even know ab
John's I WANT YOU (SHE'S SO HEAVY) is described by Harrison as “very heavy,” which, of course, it is. He then dances around about the chords and beats and John’s natural instinct, suspiciously avoiding actually saying anything about the Yoko-inspired piece.
George’s other show-stealer on the album, HERE COMES THE SUN has him recounting that, “We’d been through hell with business and it was all very heavy.” He headed out to Clapton’s garden to get away from it all. “Being in Eric’s garden felt like playing hooky from school. I found some sort of release and the song just came.”
Mr. H misses the bet on BECAUSE, the beautiful but lesser-known harmony-based piece that comes up next. “ I think this is the tune that will impress most people,” he says. Hip people will dig it and the straight people and serious music critics will, too. It’s really good.”
“Then begins the medley of Paul and John songs all
shoved together.” He doesn’t really say much about them mind you, simply recounting the titles and who was responsible for what. He does point out, in retrospect somewhat precognitively, that “THE END is just that, a little sequence that ends it all.”
Abbey Road studios have been in the news recently here in the 21st Century as EMI is apparently selling them. There is a movement under way to get them declared a historic place or salvage them in some other way.
They weren't that good. They really weren't and yet there's most definitely something about Charlton Comics that can bring out nostalgia in even the strongest person. The 1965 issue of BLUE BEETLE seen in this ad, for instance, was probably one of the worst comic books of its period if not of all time. Dull writing and art, colorless (in spite of the title), almost generic Marvel rip-off characters... and yet...it was also my first exposure to BB and I've enjoyed him in most of his prior and later incarnations ever since.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
For those interested in such things, thanks to our government's tax changes, I was able to do my part to stimulate the economy by purchasing a new IMac in the wake of my recent catastrophic PC issues. It wasn't really my intention, though. No, when our tax refund showed up last week, I simply wanted to buy my wife something she had long wanted for Valentine's Day. While we were at Best Buy, however, my wife and I bonded with a young man named Chris whose understanding, humor and intelligence went a long way toward redeeming the company in my mind after the dreadful (and still unresolved. More on that some time later.) performance of the company's associated "G@@K Sq&&D."
Friday, February 19, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
As I got more and more into OTR, I began buying cassettes by mail from none other than Jim Harmon himself, including a bunch of "new" OTR episodes he produced, usually with Curly Bradley who had played Tom Mix on radio.
By that point in the mid-seventies he was, along with Ron Haydock, Don Glut and other West Coast pop culture buffs, producing a number of nifty nostalgia magazines including MONSTERS OF THE MOVIES for Marvel.
I can't really say I got to know him but we exchanged a number of letters and emails while he was my editor on IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN vol 3 just a few years back. By the time we were dealing with vol. 4, I could sense something had changed but wasn't sure what. My last email from Mr. Harmon was about six months ago--an apology for the confusion that led to my NOT finishing yesterday's detective story.
Rest in Peace, sir...and thanks.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Last night as I was waiting on fish to bake for dinner, I did a little (rare) cleaning in the Library and found a page and a half of the story that I had, for reasons now forgotten, printed out at some point! I'm pretty sure I had gotten a bit beyond this but I was impressed with what there was an thought I'd share it with you here while the clock ticks toward my return to full speed.
So here it is---all of it. And that isn't much but tell me what you think. Maybe I could change the names and make a whole new detective out of this guy! As it is, though, here's Richard Diamond, Dick Powell's hardboiled, wisecracking, singing PI!
"You won't get me, ya lousy..."
"Diamond Detective Agency where we come on ("Bang! Bang! Bang!") like Gangbusters. Diamond speaking."
"Rick," said a very familiar female voice, "What in heaven's name...? What's going on there?"
"Oh, come now, Helen. Surely you've heard of radio. It's a big thing now. In all the papers. Hang on a second. ("Bang! Ba...CLICK) There. I turned it off."
"If you aren't careful, you're going to turn something else off too, mister. Now what on earth was that all about?"
"Well my most recent client sold radios, sweetie. Wholesale. As a bonus for recovering his --shall we say 'indiscreet' photos, he threw in a nice spanling new Philco for me. One of the new tabletop models. Not much bigger than a breadbox. It's incredible what this post-war technology can do."
"I see. So now you can spend your evenings with My Friend Irma and John's Other Wife instead of me?"
"Oh now baby, it's not like that and you know it. I only listen to detective stories! Helps me in my business, you see."
"If you say so. Say, am I going to see you later tonight?"
"You just warm up the piano keys about nine, sweetheart and I'll bring the sheet music."
"Ha, ha! Okay, Rick. You be careful today."
"Aren't I always?"
I hung up the phone and leaned back in my creaky office chair, stretching my hands up over my head. Helen was a good egg--always understanding and just lighthearted enough to sometimes make me forget just what a dangerous business I'm in.
Me? I was a professional tough guy. A dick. A shamus. The kind of guy Dick Powell could play in his sleep in the movies and Bob Mitchum usually did. On any given day I had no idea where my next paycheck was coming from. More often than not, when I was working on a job my next breath was in question, too.
I sighed and reached over to turn the radio back on when suddenly I detected a shadow moving across the other side of my office door. Instinctively my hand went to rest on the 38 in my shoulder holster. The door opened though and I immediately relaxed as a big, dumb doofus came lumbering in.
"Well, well," I said. "I just heard on the radio about a gorilla escaping from the Park Zoo but I didn't expect to see him here in my office."
"Awww, cut it out, Diamond. Da Lieutenant wants ta see youse right away."
"Oh, my! It's a TALKING gorilla! I'll make a fortune!"
"Diamond, it's me! Sergeant Otis!"
"Hmmm...So it is. Like I said, a talking gorilla. Well all right then, what's Walt got brewing in his pot today, King Kong?"
"He didn't tell me. Just that I should get ya to the office within the hour and by your wall clock that leaves us only about fifteen minutes so let's get goin'"
"Why, Otis, I didn't know you could tell time."
Otis had no way of knowing that I kept my office clock ten minutes fast so I could always be early for appointments. Still, by the real top of the hour, we were walking into the office of Lieutenant Walt Levenson, probably my oldest friend and a perpetual thorn in my side ever since I left the force to go private. For some reason, we still kept seeing each other almost...
Aaaaand that's all I have left of it. Comments?
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Inside, it was packed like Christmas. Every section had at least a handful of browsers, some being so packed we couldn't even squeeze in no matter how many "Excuse me's" we offered. All four cash registers were ringing constantly and there were two lines that stretched from them to the very back of the store. When we finally went to pay, our wait time on line was fifteen minutes even with a fast-moving line!
This was, of course, a new store whose opening was accompanied by major local TV ad campaign and targeted emails. (Don't ask me how they hired staff as I never saw a single listing for them as I searched the job sites recently.) The question will be what the place looks like a month from now. They're about a mile from a B&N, a mile or so from one of those little trading romances used bookstores and about half a mile from the best comic book store in the Greater Cincinnati area. We'll see...
Oh, and what did we get? We spent about thirty bucks and got $170.00 worth of cool stuff! Dave got Don Bluth's DRAGON'S LAIR for PC and a stray Discworld novel. Myself, I got buddy Jerry Beck's great DK PINK PANTHER book from a couple years ago, Jim Vadeboncoeur's book on the great portrait painter and former comics artist Everett Raymond Kinstler, vol 3 of DRAWN & QUARTERLY's fantastic WALT & SKEEZIX series and all 39 episodes of the 1970's Japanese TV series, SUPER ROBOT RED BARON! Didn't really see too much else of interest, actually. The usual mix of bargain books, imports and leftovers. Like I said, I'll check back next month and let you all know but the signs at least look hopeful that bookstores are still wanted!
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Here are a couple of clips from Newark's 2009 Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention, Seen here are excerpts from the historians panel featuring Ace Researcher Derek Tague moderating several other long-time friends including Professors Gary Yoggy and Mike Biehl and the intro for the authors panel showcasing Martin Grams.
Jack Benny's birthday, often parodied on his radio and TV series, was, in actuality, February 14th. Were he still alive, I have no doubt that he would be celebrating hs 39th tomorrow. Here's a fun clip from 1969 with Jack guest-starring with legendary, flamboyant pianist Liberace.
Here's a nice little video tribute to one of my favorite comic book artists, Doug Wildey, also known as the creator of TV's JONNY QUEST. Apparently this is tied to a 2 hour documentary of the artist but I haven't seen it. Lots of great illustration art seen here though.
Saw Tony Bennett on a clip from the new "We Are the World" video and was reminded of a book I have from 1968 that talks about all the groovy pop groups of the day. Right there between chapters on the Turtles and Sonny and Cher and the Who there's a chapter on Tony Bennett, of whom it's said that no matter what may be the hip musical flavors of the month, Tony is always in style. Here's my all-time favorite Tony Bennett song.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Computer problems will be lingering for another few days to a week (after which I will have a surprise announcement) so we are nowhere near back up to speed as yet. That said, for our 3000th post here at the Library, I wanted to go ahead and introduce everyone to the newest Booksteve blog--SHADES OF GRAY! Begun secretly a couple of weeks back, SHADES OF GRAY is a celebration of the art of one of comics' unsung illustrators, the late Gray Morrow. There aren't a whole lot of bells and whistles there yet as I was derailed by my PC issues but there IS some content so if you're a Gray fan, check it out! If you aren't, maybe this will introduce you. Let us know what you think!
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Will try again tomorrow. If no luck then I will have to wait until my tax refund comes in a couple weeks to get it looked at. Excuse me now while I go smash my head against the wall to see if i can get some sleep. Shit.