Monday, January 31, 2011

Artistic Musings on Frankenstein's Monster-1970's

Still recovering but here are some Frankenstein images I did in the seventies. The large one is dated 1975 but the other ones, although undated, are most likely from around 1979.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 83

In which ADAM STRANGE, the hero of this highly touted, well-remembered series, just ups and decides that he should take over the planet since he's now become a giant. Let's just kill a few hundred innocent people by destroying that building, shall we pal? And note the scintillating dialogue from his unseen paramour.

(For the record, this turns out NOT to be the real Adam...but that doesn't make this panel any better.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy (Birth) Days- Daerick Gross

I'm sicker than I've been in ages but that doesn't change the fact that today is the birthday of my friend Daerick Gross (of VAMPIRE LESTAT and MURCIELAGA SHE BAT fame). I dug up this Ron Howard caricature from his early days at THE CINCINNATI POST for him and thought I'd share it with you in between my BLUH moments today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Fantastic Foursome-1992-Doyle/Kupperberg

I'm sure even the non-comics fans amongst you noted that THE FANTASTIC FOUR was in the news today. This is NOT that particular foursome. No, this rare 1992 comic came pre-bagged with copies of SPY magazine. SPY was a surprisingly trendy but generally numbingly unfunny satire magazine that seemed to want to be the new NATIONAL LAMPOON but couldn't quite figure out how to do so. This was one of their odd successes--a comics and Clinton-era politics parody reminiscent of the sixties Tony Tallarico classic (now there's a phrase you don't hear very often!), THE GREAT SOCIETY COMIC BOOK. It's also similar to the much more recent ADVENTURES OF UNEMPLOYED MAN (watch for a review here soon!) in that the creators clearly have a working knowledge of both the political climate and comic book history. In this case, those creators are our pal Alan Kupperberg (veteran artist/writer for Marvel, DC, comic strips, NatLamp and Wally Wood) and writer Larry Doyle (an editor for SPY, future SIMPSONS producer and, along with Neal Sternecky, the creator of WALT KELLY'S POGO, the criminally underrated eighties revival of that classic strip). Don't skip the letters page at the end. Hilarious! Why couldn't SPY have been like this all the time?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fawcett Ad-1951

Note the number of cowboys in this clever 1951 Fawcett Comics ad that shows Captain Marvels Sr and Jr still bravely hanging on but has no sign of Mary!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Scene Stealers-1965

Mark Evanier and a few others ran this great pic a while back featuring Ed Wynn, Buster Keaton and two of the cast of BONANZA--Lorne Greene and Dan Blocker. On my BOOKSTEVE'S RARITIES site we find the source:

This hour-long television special stars Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton and Ed Wynn who run around a television studio causing all sorts of mayhem while attempting to avoid a security guard. Along the way, they mess up filming of BONANZA and THIS IS YOUR LIFE to name a few. Guests featured in this special include Ralph Edwards, Dorothy Provine, David Janssen, Rosemary Clooney, Eartha Kitt, Bert Convy, Nanette Fabray, Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Jackie Cooper, James Garner, Jack Lemmon and many others!

Order your own copy at BOOKSTEVE'S RARITIES.

Captain Marvel For CARE

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Richard Fenton Outcault-1977 Article

Here we have an article from the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER SUNDAY MAGAZINE in 1977 extolling the virtues of Richard Fenton Outcault, and rightfully so, as the "Father of the Comic Strips." He was certainly ONE father to the art form. The article was written by a local contributor and was no doubt sold due to the local tie-in fact that Outcault had, at one time, worked for the paper himself.

It got me thinking I should try my hand at similar articles. I wrote and submitted several including one I still have entitled, THE MONSTER KINGS OF THE MOVIES about the continued popularity of Karloff, Lugosi and Chaney, Jr, long past their deaths. With no local tie-in, it was rejected as were all of my other attempts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks # 65

John Ritter had become one of the few male TV superstars of the late seventies with his role in the seminal T&A sitcom THREE'S COMPANY. Based on a UK comedy entitled MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE, it was an old-fashioned broad, leering sex farce done up in modern dress. The fact that Ritter stood out even opposite the mostly braless sex bomb Suzanne Somers should give some idea of his charm.

The son of classic showbiz singing cowboy Tex Ritter, John had shown himself to be quite a good and charismatic performer in a running role on his father's favorite TV series, THE WALTONS, as well as quite a few guest appearances. Like most TV stars, though, he wanted to be a movie star.

HERO AT LARGE was the first starring vehicle intended to make Ritter big box office...and it should have worked. Toning it down a bit from his TV character, John plays a small-time actor who accidentally saves someone while in costume to promote someone else's movie. Afterwards, he decides to keep trying to be a real-life superhero. Real life not being a comic book or movie, however he finds himself with all kinds of issues that ultimately tarnish his reputation until he literally finds himself in a situation where he HAS to prove himself one more time.

Written by veteran Disney and family sitcom scripter AJ Carothers, HERO AT LARGE is a nice mix of light romantic comedy, heroic fantasy and just a touch of heavier drama. Opposite the lovely Anne Archer, Ritter's onscreen charm goes a long way toward making the unbelievable story believable. Around here, at least, the picture didn't even open in the major houses, premiering instead in second string neighborhood theaters to sparse audiences. John Ritter returned to his day job and in spite of a long and impressive career that ended far too soon, he never did become a real movie star.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 82

Ickiest super villain ever? If this hadn't been a Code-approved comic they might've just gone all the way and named him Scat Man. Ew.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Captain Action and Parachute

I was reminiscing with my old action figure collecting buddy earlier today about this CAPTAIN ACTION which came with a limited edition parachute. We climbed up the stairs to the third floor of my apartment building endlessly and tossed poor ol' Cap out in his orange chute only to watch him plummet to earth.

A few years ago, I spotted this particular version of the ultimate action figure selling on eBay for a thousand dollars...and it didn't even WORK!!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Worldwide Geek II

I'm still surprised at how much everyone has taken to my GEEK'S JOURNAL 1976. Delighted, mind you...but surprised. Seen above is a clipping from today's CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. Tomorrow I'm supposed to do an interview with a British magazine. The other day I was privileged to receive quite a few favorable English language reviews but also a couple of nice foreign language reviews. The Russian one translated like this on BabelFish:
"We here write, we write, read, read, and certain Steven Thomson began to frolic by similar in the distant 70th. Now its periodical records of those years, are published in [bloge] - A Of geek's Of journal 1976. It appears amusingly. Can even not of fake."
Many thanks to all who have taken the time to read it, comment and review it in your own venues.

The Bill Everett Archives Wants YOU!

Author and comics historian BLAKE BELL, biographer of Steve Ditko and Bill Everett, is looking for YOUR help with his next project. Well...maybe not you but somebody out there. Here's Blake's message today:

"We're looking for help with scans of Bill Everett's 1938-1942 (non-Marvel) work that Fantagraphics and I are collecting for THE BILL EVERETT ARCHIVES due out this summer.

Anyone who contributes will be handsomely rewarded for their efforts with free copies of the book upon its release. I'm also donating 10% of my royalties from the project to The Hero Initiative, so it's a win/win all around for this unique collection of rarely-seen work by a Golden Age of Comics master.

Do you have the comics listed below? If so (regardless of condition), please email me at (before scanning anything, please contact me for instructions; this is also to check if we've received worthy scans of a story already):

Amazing Adventures Funnies #1
Amazing Mystery Funnies v1 #1-3a, 3b; v2 #2-7, 18
Amazing Man Comics 5-11
Blue Bolt Comics v1 #4-11
Blue Bolt Comics v2 #1-3
Famous Funnies #85
(Reg'lar Fellers) Heroic Comics #1-9, 11-15
Keen Detective Funnies v2 #11, 20
Silver Streak Comics 20, 21
Target Comics v1 #1-9
Victory Comics #1, 2

And please do pass on my email to others you think might have the source material. As we did with the two volumes in the Steve Ditko Archives series from Fantagraphics, the pages of the comics are 'rinsed' from the original source material (can't mix it up by using some B&W stats). There are just enough Bill Everett stories from this period to make up two volumes if we find what we need. "

Bobby Sherman-1998

I mentioned Bobby Sherman on my GEEK'S JOURNAL 1976 blog the other day and set off a whole bunch of folks remembering Bobby on Facebook. He had pretty much faded from the scene by '76, actually and became an EMT and then, if I recall, a police officer. Eventually, he was lured back out into oldies shows. Here's a clip of Bobby in 1998 with one of his signature tunes, EASY COME, EASY GO.

Max Und Moritz Reloaded Trailer

Before the Katzenjammer Kids there were Max Und Moritz, classic German storybook characters whose misadventures were told in rhyme. Here we have a modern updating from 2005 that plays the mischievous pair more like Alan Moore's DR and Quinch! It's a violent black comedy with some jarringly awkward scenes that unfortunately degenerates into a more or less literal parody of EASY RIDER for some reason.

The Captain and the Kids Pepto Bismol Commercial

Here's a 1968 TV commercial for Pepto Bismol starring those venerable comic strip rapscallions, Der Katzenjammer Kids...or rather their legally allowed clones (it's a long story), THE CAPTAIN & THE KIDS. This was the first time I had heard of the strip and the characters probably. A year or two later, I bought an oddly shaped full color paperback reprinting a year or so of then recent strips.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Here are just some of the Old Time Radio based TV series we offer for order at BOOKSTEVE RARITIES. The problem with translating OTR to TV (or film for that matter) was that people knew what McGee's closet looked like or Amos's taxi or Duffy's Tavern and no matter how well they thought they'd done it up for TV it could never look like the hundreds of thousands of individual visions listeners had created in their own heads. Still, some fun and fascinating attempts came of it and here are some of the best of what remains in existence. Look for the BOOKSTEVE RARITIES link at right to order and help fund our family of blogs.


Fifteen DVD box set contains almost all 78 episodes of the TV series, the motion picture CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK, two vintage cartoons with Amos n' Andy from the 1930s, and an independent documentary about the history of the TV series with exclusive interviews with cast and crew! $50.00


Swaying palms, beautiful women, and high adventure in this short-run television series based on the radio program of the same name that starred Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. Here, Dane Clark plays Slate Shannon and Joan Marshall as his girlfriend Sailor Duval. The episodes took place in Trinidad, but what made this 1959-60 TV series different from the others was the calypso music which not only served as background, but sometimes tied the story together through bits of narrative. Titles include: "The Search," "Back from the Dead," "Feathered Capes," "Matador," "The Gambling Lady," "Fast trip to Venezuela," "The Missing Tourist," and "An Old Flame's Flame." $10.00

DUFFY'S TAVERN: The Television Series

In the fall of 1954, Duffy's Tavern, the long running radio show, was beginning to show its face on television. Even though only 26 episodes were filmed and broadcast, the creator and star of the series, Ed Gardner, reprised his role of Archie the barkeep in this fly-infested dive that was supposed to attract the upper class - but attracted trouble in comedic situations. Broadcast from May 4, 1954 to October 26, 1954, this DVD offers four television episodes, uncut and unedited. This DVD features: "Grand Opening" (premiere episode), "Marriage Plans", "The Counterfeiters" and "Political Campaign."

FIBBER McGEE AND MOLLY : The Television Series

Based on the popular radio show of the same name, this short-lived television series was pretty faithful to it's mother with Bob Sweeney as Fibber, and Cathy Lewis as Molly. Even Hal Peary plays Mayor LaTrivia. Broadcast from 1959-1960, this classic TV series is very hard to find but we offer eight classic episodes on this 2-disc box set! Titles include: "McGee Buys a Trailor," "The Lease Renewal," "Fred Nitney Visits," "The Courtship," "The Big Dance," "Good Neighbors," "2,500 Shares of Stock" and "Nitney's Inventions."


Ten classic TV episodes on two DVDs. Willard Watterman reprises his radio role for these classic episodes. Practice What You Preach, Gildy Goes Diving, The New Cook, The Expectant Father, Bard of Summerville, Gildy Goes Broke, The Whistling Bandit, Marjorie's Boyfriend, One Too Many Secretaries and Dancing Lessons. $10.00

THE LIFE OF RILEY: The Jackie Gleason Years

Before William Bendix, there was Jackie Gleason as Chester A. Riley. A short-run television comedy featuring adaptations of the radio scripts of the same name, this program was successful enough for the network to renew the series for a second season. But since they wanted Bendix and he was unavailable at the time, Jackie Gleason played the role. This six DVD set features all 26 episodes Gleason ever did as Riley before Bendix took over the role. $30.00

#1 "Tonsils" (October 4, 1949)#2 "Babs and Simon Step Out" (October 11, 1949)

#3 "Egbert's Chemistry Set" (October 18, 1949)#4 "The French Professor" (Oct. 25, 1949)

#5 "Nervous Breakdown" (November 1, 1949)#6 "Assistant Manager" (November 8, 1949)

#7 "Riley's Birthday Gift" (November 15, 1949)

#8 "Riley, Gillis and Vanderhooper" (November 22, 1949)

#9 "Junior Falls for His Teacher" (November 29, 1949)#10 "Night School" (December 6, 1949)

#11 "Prom Dress" (December 13, 1949)#12 "Junior's Birthday Party" (December 20, 1949)

#13 "The Boarder" (December 27, 1949)#14 "Peg's Birthday" (January 3, 1950)

#15 "Junior Drops Out" (January 10, 1950)#16 "Riley's Firstborn" (January 17, 1950)

#17 "Insurance" (January 24, 1960)#18 "The Gambler" (January 31, 1950)

#19 "Acting Lessons" (February 7, 1950)#20 "Valentine's Day" (February 14, 1950)

#21 "Home Sweet Home" (February 21, 1950)#22 "South American Job" (February 28, 1950)

#23 "Riley's Quarrel" (March 7, 1960)#24 "Junior and the Bully" (March 14, 1950)

#25 "The Banned Book" (March 21, 1950)#26 "Five Dollar Bill" (March 28, 1950)

THE LIFE OF RILEY: The William Bendix Years

After the short-run Jackie Gleason series expired, William Bendix came to television in the role of Chester A. Riley, reprising the same he did on the long-running radio program and 1948 motion-picture of the same name. This four-disc set contains a TON of television episodes in chronological order. $25.00

#2 "Riley's Business Venture" (April 3, 1953)#3 "Riley Steps Out" (April 10, 1953)

#4 "Riley the Executive" (April 27, 1953)#6 "Riley's Operation" (May 8, 1953)

#12 "Riley's Stomache Ache" (September 18, 1953)#20 "Burning Ambition" (Nov. 20, 1953)

#22 "Riley's Separation" (December 4, 1953)#24 "Riley, the Worrier" (Dec. 18, 1953)

#25 "Riley's Second Honeymoon" (December 25, 1953)#26 "Junior’s Boxing" (January 1, 1954)

#27 "Riley Balances the Budget" (January 8, 1954)#29 "Junior's Double Date" (Jan. 22, 1954)

#33 "The Boss's Niece" (February 19, 1954)#49 "Junior's Secret" (September 17, 1954)

#52 "Destination Brooklyn" (October 8, 1954)#53 "The Watch Dog" (October 15, 1954)

#60 "Riley's Wild Oats" (December 3, 1954)#66 "Come Back Junior" (Jan. 14, 1955)

#67 "Riley Buys a Wrestler" (January 21, 1955)#73 "Chicken Ranch" (March 11, 1955)

#90 "Love Comes to Waldo Binney" (October 7, 1955)#99 "Repeat Performance" (Dec. 9, 1955)

#105 "Babs' Wedding" (January 20, 1956)#107 "Junior Quits School" (Feb. 3, 1956)

#110 "The Train Trip" (February 24, 1956)#132 "Juvenile Delinquent" (Nov. 2, 1956)

#133 "Riley's Lonely Night" (November 9, 1956)#135 "Riley Hires a Nurse" (Nov. 23, 1956)

#136 "Blessed Event" (November 30, 1956)#138 "Honeybee's Mother" (Dec. 14, 1956)

#139 "World' Greatest Grandson" (December 21, 1956)#140 "Double Date" (Dec. 28, 1956)

#141 "Riley Wins a Trip" (January 4, 1957)#142 "Aloha Riley" (Jan. 11, 1957)

#143 "Change in Command" (January 18, 1957)#144 "Strolling the Park" (January 25, 1957)

#145 "Deep in the Heart" (February 1, 1957)#146 "Candid Camera" (February 8, 1957)

#148 "All-American Brain" (February 22, 1957)#149 "Getting Riley's Goat" (Mar. 1, 1957)

#150 "A Young Man's Fancy" (March 8, 1957)#151 "Babs' Dream House" (Mar. 15, 1957)

SUSPENSE (Volume 1)

30 episodes of the classic TV series from 1949-54 and telecast “live” from soundstages. This four-disc box set contains a few highlights such as Boris Karloff in a 1949 production of. $25.00

SUSPENSE (Volume 2)

Another 30 episodes of the classic TV series from 1949-54 and telecast “live” from soundstages. This four-disc box set contains a few highlights such as Bela Lugosi in "A Cask of Amontillado". $25.00

SUSPENSE (Volume 3)

Another 30 episodes of the classic TV series from 1949-54 and telecast “live” from soundstages. This four-disc box set contains a few highlights such as Boris Karloff in the 1949 production of “The Yellow Scarf” and the unaired 1958 TV pilot starring Keenan Wynn. $25.00

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review: The Green Hornet

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I greatly enjoyed Alec Baldwin in THE SHADOW and saw THE PHANTOM twice! I still have a soft spot for Ron Ely's DOC SAVAGE, too! On the other hand, I truly hated almost everything about THE SPIRIT. Thus, when I was invited to go see THE GREEN HORNET and attended with a truly open mind, the first sentence that came to mind is one I never thought I'd say: THE SPIRIT was better.

Let me begin by saying that I can't see 3-D. Since this film was not available in a non-3-D version, I wore the glasses just in case but got not one effect. What I did see were some pretty heavy-handed attempts at having things fly directly at the camera, most obviously the closing credits.

THE GREEN HORNET opens well enough with a dark-humored sequence in which the Big Bad, Christoph Waltz (an Oscar winner last year), confronts and is confronted by an upstart gangster new in town. It's violent but well-played. I would love to have seen a film that pitted the Green Hornet against this guy. Unfortunately, throughout the rest of the picture, Waltz's character becomes more cartoonish as if to match the tone of the rest of the film.

And that's what this is from the get-go--a big, dumb violent cartoon. I thought Rogen could pull it off a la Michael Keaton as Batman but I left disappointed on that score. As co-writer and star, Rogen is one of the weakest points of a weak movie. The story is virtually non-existant. Playboy slacker Britt Reid's newspaper publisher father dies and he inherits the paper. One of dad's old servants designs cool cars and he and Britt get drunk and go out in disguise to cause mischief. They end up rescuing a young couple from a street gang instead and decide to do that from then on, pretending to be bad guys while helping people. This sets the real bad guys out to kill them which then accounts for the last half of the picture.

The obvious bromance between Rogen and Chou is hampered by the latter's lack of a grasp on the English language. This throws his timing in the comedy scenes and makes him occasionally incomprehensible in others. If Rogen ever really showed a sense that his character was growing, his performance might have worked. As it is, every step of the way, he plays the Hornet as a bumbling, stumbling doofus carried by Kato.

Cameron Diaz is the temporary secretary who is made permanent for no real reason and almost immediately is sitting in on staff meetings and offering her opinions. Her character is the least realistic of a pretty fanciful bunch. The only one to emerge with any sense of dignity is the staid Edward James Olmos as Axford, the character who, in the television version, was the comic relief!

The real breakout star of the film is The Black Beauty, the Green Hornet's car. Pimped out with guns, rockets, tire shredders and ejector seats, no matter how badly the film does--and based on the lack of audience members at the screening I saw, it WILL--that car will make a cool toy! Wait a few months and it'll be cheap. I think it's a safe bet we won't be seeing a sequel.

Verdict--THE GREEN HORNET: A few laughs, often at the expense of the heroes, some cool fun with the car...but little else.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Alice Cooper-NOT My First Concert

Over at my other place (A GEEK'S JOURNAL 1976) we're working our way through 1976 where I attend my very first real rock concert (following a pleasant Tony Orlando and Dawn event that I wouldn't exactly call a rock concert) in May. I almost attended my first concert a year earlier however...Alice Cooper's WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE tour in 1975!

I'll be honest, Alice scared me when I first saw him circa 1971. Was he a guy or a particularly unattractive girl? And what was up with that snake!!?? He had this loud song called EIGHTEEN on the radio and I just had never heard music quite like his. Then, later on, he came out with SCHOOL'S OUT, a clever little bit of musical anarchy. It was starting to make sense to me. With the release of his album, WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE, I got it! Alice Cooper music played into the fears of adolescents in a way that no one else did. Most groups played into teenage fantasies but Alice played into our collective nightmares with songs of angst, despair, worries about the future, worries about puberty, worries about the voices in our own heads.

It was kind of creepy but with this album and tour, he coalesced his character of a malevolent host a la Joel Grey in CABARET. On top of that, the person whose fears he was playing into with this concept album...was named STEVEN. I bought the album after some soul-searching and played it endlessly. My mother actually liked the album's double-entendre titled hit, ONLY WOMEN BLEED but I tried not to hold that against Alice.

At some point there was even an unprecedented late night shot on video TV special adapting the album. Not sure where that fit in timewise but in April of 1975 the tour came to Cincinnati and I wanted to go. I REALLY wanted to go. I had never been to a rock concert before and I was looking at this one more like a carnival thrill ride than a live show. I couldn't wait.

The problem was that the Riverfront Coliseum was not yet the home of all the rock concerts. Alice (and opening act Suzi Quatro, sort of an early Joan Jett 'til HAPPY DAYS softened her image) would be appearing way up in Cincinnati at a place called Cincinnati Gardens. We had gone there for DISNEY ON PARADE in 1972. Getting there was a complicated series of buses which ran less often as it got late. In '72, we ended up taking a cab home at substantial cost and didn't get in until well after midnight. When it came to the Alice Cooper concert, My parents wouldn't hear of it. Having just turned 16 and not knowing anyone else who wanted to go who could drive me...I passed.

The good part was that I probably slept well for months because of NOT seeing the show. In retrospect, however, it would have been great to say that I saw Alice Cooper at his peak and Suzi Quatro when she was still a punk as my very first concert.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Real Green Hornet!

THE GREEN HORNET movie is starting to catch some buzz...but not all of it is particularly good. If you want the straight story on the Hornet in his radio, serial, comics and TV incarnations, you need to read Martin Grams' thick, definitive book done with Terry Salomonson. Order from Booksteve Rarities and a portion of your purchase goes to support this blog! Hornet fans will NOT be disappointed!

Showcase Ads

SHOWCASE was arguably the first important comic book of the Silver Age as it debuted the revamped FLASH, GREEN LANTERN and others. Originally, though, the sights were set a little bit closer to home as you can see by these nifty ads for the first two issues way back in 1956.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Superman's City--Metropolis, Illinois

Here we have a piece that appeared in the September 16th, 1973 CINCINNATI ENQUIRER Sunday Magazine. Do they still have Sunday magazines? I miss newspapers! This was around the time that Metropolis, Illinois, the only city inAmerica with that name, decided to cash in on the Superman connection. The original format being what it was, I've tried to clean it up and cut and paste to get you the best reading experience here. Sorry about the photo of the Man of Steel reading a comic. (Seriously, a Legion of Super Heroes reprint comic was the best they could do?)

The Superman/Metropolis Connection continues to this day. President Obama was even photographed with the town's Superman statue! Here's a link to the Metropolis Superman Museum's Super Store:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Worldwide Geek

If you had told me in 1976 when I had my geeky senior picture taken that one day in the next century it would be seen around the world and now on AOL's main page....I would most likely have said, "What is AOL?"

After several days of links and nice write-ups from URLESQUE, GEEKOSYSTEM and several foreign language sites, I awoke this morning to my own eyes staring back at me from AOL's front page when I went to check school closings for my son. Wow. Have YOU checked out A GEEK'S BLOG 1976 yet? Let me know what you think.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pardon Us--the Long Version

TCM is having another Laurel and Hardy marathon beginning tomorrow evening. If you're a fan, here's something you may never have seen! You can order it here and a portion of the proceeds support this blog.

PARDON US (1931)
Theatrically released in 1931, this was Laurel and Hardy's first motion-picture. Prior to this, they appeared in comedy film shorts. When it was first test previewed for American audiences in 1931, there was ctitical comments about certain scenes. The producers felt it would be best to strip it down in length from 70 minutes to 66. Most DVD releases and TV airings are 66 and others are (sadly) 55 minutes! What we offer is the rarely-seen preview print at the original 70 minute length!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Comics: Anatomy of a Mass Medium

Only time today for another random book off the shelf. This one is COMICS: ANATOMY OF A MASS MEDIUM, the English translation of a semi-scholarly treatise on international comics history from 1972. Along with Steranko, Daniels, Feiffer, the Penguin book and the paperback of ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME, this was one of my first comics history books (of which we now have a bookcase full and that's not counting most from the past decade that we couldn't afford).

Written by Reinhold Reitberger and Wolfgang Fuchs, for many years I considered this one an also-ran compared to the above-mentioned books. Perhaps it's due to the translation or perhaps to the attempt at telling such a wide-ranging story in approximately 250 over-written pages.

With hindsight, however, I note that this volume was the book that introduced me to a number of intriguing strips and artists I had never seen or heard of anywhere else. In fact, in some cases it was decades before I was able to see more of some of these.

These include:

ASTERIX--In 1975, my high school Spanish class had some ASTERIX volumes in Spanish and over time I was able to get the whole delightful set of the adventures of the little Gaul who remains an icon throughout Europe.

TINTIN--I had seen excerpts in a kids magazine in my grade school library but the art turned me off. Here I learned just how popular the series was. It was only in the 21st century that I finally started reading it.

LUCKY LUKE--Although I'm still not a huge fan of this French Western strip, I quite enjoyed the Terence Hill TV series from the '90's as well as the big-budget French western in 2010.

BERNARD PRINCE, LUC ORIENT and BRUNO BRAZIL--Three series of graphic novels with wonderful art and such good storytelling that one doesn't even need to know the language to enjoy them. I finally got a few only in recent years.

Jean Giraud (aka Moebius)--Already popular in Europe with his Blueberry westerns, it would be a few years before his popularity spread to the US.

DIABOLIK--The Italian anti-hero whose cinematic sixties feature directed by Mario Bava has long since become a favorite.

Guy Peellaert and Guido Crepax--Two European artists whose art I admire greatly even though I have never particularly cared for any of their specific comics works.

So, yes, it took me a while to realize it but this book, purchased in 1972 in the basement of Kidd's Bookstore on Vine Street in Cincinnati, ended up being, if anything, perhaps more important than some of the others!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Elvis Trailer-Elvis: That's The Way It Is

The Colonel and Hal Wallis probably weren't happy that cash cow Elvis decided to give up acting in 1969 after more than a decade of frothy but mostly lifeless moneymaking films. Apparently the King still owed them a film on his contract, though, and this mostly cinema-verite documentary of his Las Vegas opening was the result. We see the worshipful fans--now approaching middle age--as they all look forward to the concert. We see Elvis preparing and performing. We even see Cary Grant in a brief cameo that marks his first big screen appearance since WALK, DON'T RUN! There are no revelations here but some solid performances and the beginnings of the Elvis cult as we've come to know it.

Elvis Trailer-Change of Habit

This was the second of only two Elvis films I saw in a theater. I was at a friend's house on a Sunday afternoon in 1969 when his mom asked if we wanted to go see it with her. After a quick call to my mom for an okay, we were on our way. This was after his comeback special. He looked good here and really tried in a serious, mostly non-musical role as an inner city doctor...who may or may not be falling for naive nun Mary Tyler Moore(!!). In the manner of many of the "relevant" films and TV episodes of the day, CHANGE OF HABIT has not aged well at all and comes across now as incredibly heavy-handed. Elvis had had enough and would do no more acting at all.

Elvis Trailer-Jailhouse Rock

JAILHOUSE ROCK is one of the few Elvis movies where we see something akin to the primal Elvis, complete with the hip shaking hits! There's a good, dramatic story where the music doesn't seem out of place and a good supporting cast led by Mickey Shaughnessy. What's this I hear about a modernized non-Elvis remake?

Elvis Trailer-Clambake

A fun twist on THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER. Both Will Hutchins and Bill Bixby appear in this film. Hutchins once told me that the two of them were the only people outside of his circle that were allowed to appearing more than one film with the King because Presley liked the fact they didn't try to steal scenes from him. The thing is Hutch stole every scene he's in effortlessly with his easy charm, making Elvis's performance look almost cardboard by comparison. You can see some of that even in the trailer here.

Elvis Trailer-Double Trouble

I think I may be the only person in the world for whom DOUBLE TROUBLE is their favorite Elvis Presley movie. I saw it in the theater when it was new. I was seven and had only a vague idea as to who this Elvis person was, mainly from seeing comedians joke about his wiggles on TV. Not sure who took me to see it--a babysitter perhaps--because my parents didn't like Elvis at all in those days. The soundtrack album was actually the first Elvis record I ever bought!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Norman Rockwell Ad

Everyone knows the classic Norman Rockwell ad for the Famous Artist's School Correspondence Course that appeared on the back of comic books for approximately 200 years. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found this version I'd never seen before!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

An Appeal On Behalf of Colorist Tom Ziuko

From Alan Kupperberg on Facebook:

Tom Ziuko, good guy, great friend and color artist supreme needs our help! Tom is about to go into his fourth week of hospitalization in Niagara Falls. Tom spent the entire holiday season fighting acute kidney failure and several unrelated but severely painful conditions. The good news is that the doctors seem to have finally stumbled on a series of treatments and therapies that have Tom seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. The bad news is that Tom, uninsured and unable to work since the beginning of December, is in a tough financial bind.

Can you help? If all of my Friends on FB were to contribute even one dollar apiece it would be a tremendous boon to Tom. If you want to do a good deed and are able, Tom and I would be so grateful. You can send any contributions to my PayPal account ( and I will pass 100% (plus) along to Tom.

Tom's cable service has been shut down but he has internet access in the hospital. If you wish to contact him, his address is:

Thanks so much to all those who can and will help. Tom colored the piece shown here and it shows what a great talent he is. I appreciate your time and consideration. Thanks.


Here's a nifty Atlas ad from the 1950's for VENUS. The character was Bill Everett's baby but this art doesn't seem to be by him. In fact, it looks like Atlas was attempting to push Venus to girl readers as something other than" just" a comic book...and, of course, promote RENO BROWNE while doing so!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 81

Speaking--as we were just yesterday--of Superman and Clark: Note how Clark Kent uses his little known "Glasses Removal Vision" to save time when turning into Superman.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Clark Bars and Kent Cigarettes

One of my long-held beliefs is that the secret of life is not knowing all the answers--it's knowing to whom you can go to find them. Thus when friend and Ace Researcher Derek Tague found himself recently remembering a SUPERMAN story from the 1950's in which someone nearly finds out the Man of Steel's identity because of a Clark Bar and a pack of Kent Cigarettes, he turned to me.
I also recalled the tale but I was pretty sure it was from the late sixties as opposed to the fifties and that it was a back-up story. A quick check of the Internet and the DC Boards showed that someone else remembered it, too. They wrote that it was a tale in which
Clark was having dinner with a suspicious Lana Lang when someone bought the products and suddenly made her think...or something like that. That story was repeated on various sites as well as on Wikipedia. The inclusion of Lana made me think that perhaps it was in a SUPERBOY story--except for the fact that sometimes it's Lois, not Lana.
So I started digging through issues and listings and scans from the years I was convinced the story was published but found nothing. I found a few more clues, all seemingly pointing to the Lois and/or Lana version but not getting me
anywhere closer to the actual story itself.
Sadly, out of frustration, I gave up...for a time. In the great tradition of overgrown fanboys, I can never completely give up on a nagging question, however, and from time to time would randomly search through old issues or try a new search engine online for info.
Then last week I was watching a SUPERMAN documentary on television when I saw comics writer Mark Waid being interviewed. A sometime reader of this blog, I knew Mark to be an expert on Silver Age DC in general and Superman in particular. I also knew, as he had been in the comics news quite a bit recently, that he was a pretty busy guy, transitioning from his Boom Studios executive position to some new and highly anticipated creative endeavors coming from Marvel. One again, however, in that tradition of knowing whom to ask, I contacted Mark...and he knew the answer!! "JIMMY OLSEN # 115," he wrote. "One of my favorites! And it was a snoopy kid!"
So Interwebs, you were wrong! It was neither Lois nor Lana! I, however, was right in that it was a late 1968 issue. It was the Pete Costanza-drawn backup in the issue featuring the semi-classic Neal Adams "Superdickery" cover with the Man of Might refusing to share his ice water with Jimmy and Aquaman in a desert.
"The Kid Who Unmasked Superman" is credited on GCD to veteran scripter Dave Wood. The title character is a precocious fellow named Duncan Brite who joins the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club just so he can get close to Superman and uncover his identity. In fact, this story is so much about Duncan that Jimmy himself disappears after page three of the nine page piece. Duncan manages to get a strand of super-hair, an ear impression, a footprint and other CSI-type clues, all of which point him towards Clark Kent. He then decides to simply follow Clark to work and quickly try to clip off a strand of his super hair. Disguised as a new delivery boy, Master Brite is frustrated when Clark is seen typing at his desk while wearing his hat in the great tradition of reporters in old movies...if not so likely in 1968. In the end, though, Clark catches on and makes the kid think he's secretly bald and therefore can NOT be Superman! Meanwhile, Duncan's pop calls in an order to the local store and sends the boy down to pick it up. Somehow failing to notice the irony, dear old dad has guessed it...a Clark Bar and a pack of Kent Cigarettes!
Thanks, Mark. There you go, Derek! Next question?