Sunday, July 31, 2011

Silver Age Sub-Mariner Splash Page Sundays # 24

Move along. Nothing to see here. In fact, this is the most generic splash page we've had yet. The title takes up the top quarter of the page and its coloring distracts from the actual scene below rather than highlighting it.

In that scene we get a totally defeated hero, a rather distracted looking Warlord Krang doing his soggy Ming the Merciless impression and a hulking Orka.

John Buscema continues his anatomically impressive art, here with Jim Mooney as inker. If only the layouts had been more interesting.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I'm told some of you actually care about these occasional updates so here's another one.

We are okay. Financially, our windfall of a few months ago has kept us going and taken care of some bills, car problems and health issues but is now dwindling quickly.

In spite of brand new brakes, the car now seems to have a struts problem!

My wife remains out of work but she has a job interview coming up this week.

Son bookdave, although beset by hearing issues in recent weeks, blew away a test that will now allow him to move ahead by skipping 9th grade math this next school year. He has the option of doing the same for 10th grade math but has chosen not to do so.

Me, I had a recent health scare over "dangerously high" blood pressure. I'm still fighting a losing battle at taking off the fifty extra pounds I've added over the past two years, I've got some eye issues, muscle issues and I can no longer walk a block without it feeling like I'm dying.

I haven't technically given up photography but when you've had a model who's so much on your wavelength for three years, I fear nothing from this point can possibly compare so...for now...the camera is reserved for cute kitty pics.

Although I am still seeking a steadier income, I continue to think of myself now as underemployed as opposed to UNemployed. I have a short story I need to finish up, an e-book I'm working on, a spec script and, of course, 8 blogs (plus I.T.C.H.) all of which are now bringing in a leeeetle income. Still associated with Yoe Books, I am currently running that company's Twitter and Facebook pages. Then there's Booksteve Rarities--rare, good quality DVD's--a site I run in conjunction with author Martin Grams. I get a percentage of all sales through there. A few other irons in the fire and still open to proofreading/transcription/research and editing gigs although they've been scarce lately.

Donations through PayPal if you like what you see are still happily accepted and encouraged. See above right.

If you haven't checked out my newest and grooviest blog, 1966--MY FAVORITE YEAR, I'd love to know your thoughts on it.

BTW--This next month marks the sixth anniversary of BoOkStEvE's LiBrArY! Stay tuned for more pop goodness!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Luc Orient

Sometimes I wish I spoke...or at least could read...a few other languages. About the time I discovered comics fandom in 1972, I also discovered that there was a whole world of comics that existed completely outside of America...and not in English.

Over the years, some, including ASTERIX, CORTO MALTESE and BARBARELLA have been translated. Others remain intriguing covers with pretty pictures. One such series is LUC ORIENT. To quote Wikipedia: Luc Orient, professor Hugo Kala from Eurocristal laboratory and his secretary Lora, share several adventures involving aliens and scientific mysteries. At the beginning, the trio discovers a stranded spaceship with a hibernating alien crew; professor Kala's arrival brings hope to the refugees from the planet Terango (Episodes 1-2). They then travel to Terango to thwart the evil tyrant Sectan who plots to invade Earth (Episodes 3-5). Subsequent adventures involve a series of scientific mysteries. Luc and Lora even acquire superpowers in Episode 6.

I was looking through some of these albums again just recently and wondering what it would be like to just kick back in bed and fall right into the adventures of Luc Orient without that language barrier. Maybe someday. And then there's also my other favorite Franco-Belgian comic, BRUNO BRAZIL, also by Greg from TIN-TIN.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When USA Heroes Meet by Stan Lee

Rockman, Major Liberty, the Vagabond, the Whizzer and the rest of the "stars" of the early Timely title, USA COMICS all appear together in this unusual text piece by a very young Stan Lee.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Superman Ad--1956

Here's a fun DC house ad for the character of Superman but not for any particular title. Interesting to note that much of the info contained in the "Saga of Superman" shown here from 55 years ago will soon be negated by the upcoming reboot of the character and the whole DCU.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Loston Wallace Commissions

Artist Loston Wallace has been a great friend of my blogs (as well as a contributor) for some time now and he suddenly finds himself in a bad situation. he's taking on commissions to make much needed money. If I may quote the Groovy Agent from DIVERSIONS OF THE GROOVY KIND, Loston Wallace, artist and co-creator of Image's Lorna: Relic Wrangler has come upon some hard times. His wife has been hit with breast cancer, so Mr. Wallace is wrangling up all the commission work he can to help offset the cost of the surgeries and treatments she'll have to undergo. Loston's not asking for hand-outs (though I'm sure he'd be tickled with any financial help he can get!), he's working hard to pay the bills, and I hope as many of you as possible will contact Loston with some commission bucks!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review: Captain America-The First Avenger

The closest thing I had seen to a bad review of CAPTAIN AMERICA--THE FIRST AVENGER was a single comment referring to it as a "mediocre movie with a few good action sequences." Other than that, nearly everything I've seen from critics, fans, Facebook pals and even people who've never read a CAPTAIN AMERICA comic before could safely be called a rave. Not having been able to see it until its third day of release, I must admit I was more than a little worried that it couldn't live up to what I'd read. Thankfully, I was very wrong.

Flat out, let me state that I consider CAPTAN AMERICA--THE FIRST AVENGER to be not just the most entertaining but also the BEST superhero based movie since 1978's SUPERMAN--THE MOVIE. I was worried about the casting. I was worried when they said he would fight Hydra and not the Nazis. I was worried when they released images of the uniform. I was worried they would screw up my all-time favorite comic book hero on film...for the fifth time!!! None of it matters. It all works!

The 1940's serial featured a hero in a costume that vaguely resembled Cap's. No wings, no shield and he shot a pistol quite a bit. The two 1970's Cap TV-movies had our motorcycling hero with a star-spangled cycle helmet! The highly touted 1990 feature had a Cap that at least LOOKED the part...except for the rubber ears on his hood. It was badly written and directed and went straight to VHS release. A proposed later Broadway musical never even got to tryouts!

But this time, it all works. The key to the whole thing is that they captured Steve Rogers! Chris Evans gives a much more nuanced performance than actors are usually allowed in this type of film and makes you genuinely like and believe in Steve Rogers. That he becomes Captain America is almost incidental.

Likewise, Hugo Weaving does quite a bit more than parrot standard megalomaniacal dialogue as Johann Schmidt, the Red Skull. His makeup is impressive and his rivalry with Steve is given an extra reason for existing that wasn't in the original comics...yet actually works.

There are no losers in the cast. The best performance is by Stanley Tucci as the ill-fated Dr. Erskine but former Batman villain Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Phillips has some classic lines and Toby Jones (no relation), once again looking for all the world like Truman Capote, is surprisingly good as a later Jack Kirby creation, Dr. Arnim Zola.

With a dozen nods to Marvel continuity, some obvious and some for only the cognoscenti, there's never a dull moment as British Agent Hayley Atwell--good in a sometimes fun but thankless role in what is essentially an all-boys play-- leads Steve toward becoming a hero.

When you know going in that in essence the whole film is setting up another movie entirely--next Summer's AVENGERS--you don't expect a lot of cohesiveness to the plot...and yet there is. It's paced well, there's a good juxtaposition of the action scenes and the character scenes and even the inevitable conclusion is played much (let me emphasize here "MUCH") better than I expected!!

Much has been written about the film's muted color scheme, the amazing 1940's New York sets and the seemingly impossible and yet flawlessly accomplished concept of magnificently buffed up Chris Evans himself portraying the skinny Steve Rogers of the first quarter of the film. Deservedly so. That all adds to the joy of this picture. As do little touches like the clever and quick cameo by a totally unexpected superhero near the beginning (did you catch it?).

In the end, though, Chris Evans is what makes it all work. I've seen a lot of superhero movies but more than that, I've read a LOT of Captain America stories over the past 45 years! In CAPTAIN AMERICA--THE FIRST AVENGER, Chris Evans IS Steve Rogers and Steve Rogers really is...Captain America!

BTW--I believe that's a fan poster above but I didn't want to post the same thing others have been posting.

Silver Age Sub-Mariner Splash Page Sundays # 23

Not thrilled with this one. I like the lettering and the coloring but the art, although serviceable, does not make a great splash.

Marie Severin and Johnny Craig continue as artists and while the image of a horde of killer whales would probably look astonishing on film it's kind of "just there" on four-color pulp paper.

Roy continues his run as scripter but there's a very real feeling slipping in--especially considering the series' underwater setting--that there could be shark jumping at any time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Captain America 2011

Have yet to see a bad review on the new Captain America film opening today. Critics like and love it, fans are though the roof over it. Looks like THIS is the superhero movie to see this summer. We were planning on going today making it the only movie we've all gone out to see all year but David is under the weather so we've postponed for now.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yoe Books # 4 (of 4) Krazy Kat and the Art of George Herriman

Published by Abrams, technically KRAZY KAT AND THE ART OF GEORGE HERRIMAN isn't a "Yoe Book" at all but it is most definitely a book from Yoe. In fact, this is a book that Craig has been working diligently on for several years, uncovering rare and in some cases never before published material.

KRAZY KAT defies any and all attempts at explanation to those unfamiliar with it. There's this cat, see, and the cat may or may not be male...or female. Either way, the cat lives in an ever-changing desert in a town populated by talking animals and he...or she...seems to have a speech impediment, making her word balloons sometimes virtually unintelligible.

There's also a mouse named Ignatz. Now Ignatz hates the cat and is constantly throwing bricks at the cat's head. Rather than make the cat angry, the cat interprets these as "love taps" and thus pines for Ignatz. Attempting to referee is the local constable, himself a dog who may or may not be smitten with the androgynous cat. That's pretty much the way it was in the newspapers of the first few decades of the twentieth century.

Many loved it, many hated it. The intelligentsia claimed it for their own and the artsy crowd declared Krazy Kat to be more than just another comic strip! And just who was the man behind all this? In a day when comic strip artists were celebrities, George Herriman was a little shadowy. Craig Yoe digs into the reasons why and also shows us Herriman's work away from Krazy Kat.

By way of full disclosure, I did some minor research for this one well over a year ago. It's my understanding that none of it was used in the final product.

Yoe Books # 3 (of 4)--Amazing 3-D Comics

Have you gone to a movie lately? Many of them are in 3-D...again. 3-D films came along in the fifties and then flared up again briefly in the mid-sxties, then again in the mid-seventies. Concurrent with the rise of 3-D movies, though, was the rise of the 3-D comic book, a creature unto itself! 3-D comics seem to have skipped the seventies revival, opting instead for one of their very own in the eighties.

3-D comics were invented in the fifties by the great artist/writer/editor teacher Joe Kubert, his then artistic partner Norman Maurer and Norman's brother, Leonard. The whole story is told in Craig Yoe's new book, AMAZING 3-D COMICS, followed by reprints of dozens of vintage three-demensional comics, complete with glasses!

AMAZING 3-D COMICS is the third of Craig Yoe's new books to make its debut at this year's Comic Con International, going on even as we speak in San Diego. Craig conducted an extensive interview with the still very much with us Mr. Kubert while I, myself, had fun interviewing Joan Howard Maurer, daughter of Stooge Moe Howard and widow of Norman Maurer. Both provided rare illustrations for the book and Kubert even illustrated a brand new "comin' at ya" picture for Craig's typically impressively designed cover!

The reprinted section includes work from, among others, Kirby, Toth, Powell, Ditko and, of course, from Maurer and Kubert!

If you're in San Diego, one of the most talked about panels seems to be this Friday's scheduled panel on 3-D comics with Craig Yoe! Stop by the AMAZING 3-D panel --In actual 3-D with free glasses for all audience members Friday, July 22nd, 1-2 PM, Room 4.

If you couldn't make it out to the Coast, you can order your copy here. It's the same book, in spite of the fact that Amazon has an early, pre-Kubert draft of the cover.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yoe Books # 2--The Carl Barks Big Book of Barney Bear

The second of four brand spanking new hot off the presses Yoe Books debuting at Comic-Con International, THE CARL BARKS BIG BOOK OF BARNEY BEAR is a real treat! For fans who have always doted on the work of Disney's "Good Duck Artist," here we have a treasure trove of more of the same only featuring MGM's Barney Bear and his sometime movie sidekick, Benny Burro.

These stories were done by Barks for Dell Comics in the 1940's, originally appearing in TOM & JERRY. Just as he had done with Donald Duck, Barks managed to give more character to the four-color version of the character than the technicolor version ever had! Although these short stories are nowhere near as elaborate as some of Unca Carl's later, longer Scrooge McDuck extravaganzas they do offer hours of fun.

For those of you familiar with a book from a few decades back called BARKS BEAR BOOK, this volume is much more than a reprint of many of the same stories. For one thing, THE CARL BARKS BIG BOOK OF BARNEY BEAR offers state of the art color printing from the original comics rather than the black and white photocopies in the other volume. It also has an extensive history of Barks, Barney and the comics as well as both an introduction and a nifty new cover art from BONE's Jeff Smith!

THE CARL BARKS BIG BOOK OF BARNEY BEAR is a book for anyone and everyone who loves truly masterful cartooning. By way of full disclosure, I did proofreading and a little fact-checking on this one and my wife suggested the title. If you only know Barney Bear from the sometimes sluggish MGM cartoons, you really don't know the whole story until you see Carl Barks' version. Ignore the name in the ad below. That's the correct book. Order yours now!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yoe Books #1 (of 4)--The Best of Archie's Madhouse

Craig Yoe is headed to San Diego this week and he's debuting no less than FOUR new volumes of fun and historical comics goodness when he gets there. Craig gets ribbed and even criticized for the number of books he comes out with but here's the thing--they're all great! Over the next few days I'll preview the four new ones which can be ordered now or found at your local comic shop soon after Comic-Con.

THE BEST OF ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE is, in a way, a follow-up to ARCHIE--A CELEBRATION OF AMERICA'S FAVORITE TEENAGERS. More of a companion piece really as even the original run ditched the Riverdale gang fairly early on. ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE is one of a zillion or so variations on EC's MAD. Although done for a slightly younger audience than the others, this is the one that took. It lasted more than a decade in multiple variations--once as an actual horror comic!!
George Gladir created Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, for MADHOUSE and it was, for years, that character's home. Other regular characters included the humorous superhero, Captain Sprocket, Chester Square and Lester Cool. For the most part, though, the book was filled with silly, funny bits about stuff teenagers cared about--school, dating, monsters, television, music, etc.
Artists whose work was given free reign to be ridiculous here include, among others, Orlando Busino, Joe Edwards, Dan DeCarlo and, in his sole appearance in an Archie Comic, Wallace Wood!

By way of full disclosure, I did some research for this book, proofread it a few times and even wrote a draft of the introductory text! And I enjoyed it every time! Scores of reprinted features and hours of silliness await you in THE BEST OF ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE! Order now. Read it on a bus or a plane or in the doctor's office. Laughter is contagious!

Monday, July 18, 2011

R.I.P. Borders

It doesn't matter that you haven't spoken to your old friend in years. It doesn't matter that they let you down, repeatedly, toward the end. Attacked you even at times. That the breakup, after nearly 25 years, while amicable, wasn't pretty. Doesn't matter. Nope. When you find out family is dying, all that bad stuff seems to go away. And make no mistake...Borders is family to me.

That's right. Borders. The bookstore chain. Oh, I had seen her around, then Waldenbooks, since the seventies. But it was the Fall of 1982 when we actually became friends under what would prove to be Twilight Zone circumstances (Search "Lana Turner" above left). I was a green kid of 23 and suddenly I found myself working with openly gay managers, politically incorrect employees and even having certain illegal substances passed around at store meetings...where the District Manager was present! It was a much more open time and because of that there was much less disrespect for people than one sees now in more "protective" circumstances.

Waldenbooks taught me to love books more than I already did. She taught me about publishing, printing and distribution, marketing, merchandising and small presses. She taught me that if you try to give your employes everything they requested, then they'd be there for you when you needed them because they knew you CARED! I paid close attention in that first year, working downtown for the most part but also regularly on loan it to a suburban mall store.

After one year, I felt I was ready to take the next step. I became Assistant Manager of that mall store. It wasn't easy. I had a contentious relationship with my boss much of the time. But we both knew we made a great team and we made a dinky little no-traffic store in a mall built for 96 stores--that never had more than 12--survive and thrive. We won contests, stole corporate sales from our competition, even made the papers at one point!

Through convoluted circumstances, I was passed over for promotion when my boss moved up and out. I wasn't at all happy with the new one. Over time I grew to hate and resent the new one...who was eventually to be fired for stealing from the company. So...I followed my old one, eventually reteaming with her at a new and bigger mall where we had nine full years of newer and bigger triumphs during which time we all went through some life changes. In my case, that meant, among other things, meeting the woman I was meant to marry (see Lana Turner story) and marrying her!

After 13 years working with my partner/boss at three different stores, I had learned a lot both from her and from the company. By that point, we had merged with the line of superstores that K Mart had purchased for us and become Borders Group, Inc. We had then run away from home and put ourselves out in the cold, harsh world. I was finally promoted in that period to running my own store--the one I had left so unceremoniously nine years earlier. There followed five more years of a honeymoon period in which I was credited with keeping that store in business and making it once again successful. By that point, only five stores remained in that giant, dead mall.

Little by little during this period, the company began to change its thinking and its ways of doing things. They would even repeat things that had already failed in the hopes that perhaps this time they would win! The people up at the top no longer knew books. they were hired from the garment industry, the electronics industry and other, non-literary areas. They knew "business" we were told, and that's what counted. They didn't need to know books. But they did. the company taught me...ISN'T just another form of retail! To do it properly on any level one needs to at least recognize and deal with a host of ideas and concepts outside the actual physical product one is selling. On the store level, they were suddenly telling us not to even bother talking about books during job interviews but rather about selling experience!

In 2000, she asked me to save the day again--to move to another store in farming country out on the far side of Cincinnati and work my magic again to keep a store from closing. It was a rough time for me and with middle management now scrambling to stay in good with a constantly changing CEO, the rules changed almost monthly. Nothing they suggested worked and when I came up with innovative ideas that I could show DID work (he said humbly) I was shot down. All stores needed to be exactly the same, I was told. I was there three years all told and even though there were still some good times, it was clear our relationship wasn't what it once was. Finally, inevitably, we split.

We were apart for three years but we decided that what we had was so special maybe we should give it another try. So we got back together. Our reunion was at the airport. She had the new name by then. Borders. But at heart she was still my Waldenbooks. In the beginning it was tentative. I was just an employee this first. But soon enough I was manager again. But she had changed in so many ways by this time. All the things she taught me, all the ways to sell, all the ways to treat your employees...those were now considered all wrong. And the political correctness was stifling and invited nothing but animosity between everyone while supposedly there to keep problems from occurring. It didn't work out this time. Again, it wasn't all bad. Some fun, some good people...but ultimately dysfunctional to the max. She blamed me, of course. I continue to this day to blame her.

But as I say, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. It really doesn't. When someone has been that big a part of your life for so long, they count and they always will. Just because we could no longer get along...just because we could no longer live together...doesn't negate her importance to me. I love you Borders. I'll miss you.

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 91

Here we see, as drawn by the great Nick Cardy, Sergio Aragones caricatured in a sixties issue of BAT LASH as a character called "Sergio Aragones." Perhaps coincidentally, it was written by...Sergio Aragones!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Silver Age Sub-Mariner Splash Page Sundays # 22

If this one looks familiar, it's because it's actually quite similar to one from just a few issues back, also by Marie Severin. The angle, Namor the descent and even the yellow gazebo thing (although not an exact copy) are the same in both.

The only real differences are Subby's cape and his (don't ask) helmet, along with the other two characters.

Visually, it's okay but nowhere near as interesting as some of the recent issues have been.

This issue is contextually important as, along with an issue of THE INCREDIBLE HULK around that same time, it featured a guest appearance by the then-recently bookless Doctor Strange, this setting the stage for Roy's eventual teaming of those three unlikely characters as the "non-team," the Defenders.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Collect Toys. Net

In setting up my new 1966 blog, I've been revisiting a lot of cool toys I used to have back in the day. Here's a site where you can do the same! Lots of categorized listings of toys and games from varipus eras with more coming all the time. Check out COLLECT TOYS.NET at

Friday, July 15, 2011

1966, My Favorite Year

In all that spare time I don't have, I've decided to open yet another blog, this one dedicated to all things pop culture from that wonderful year when I was seven--1966! Not much there yet but let me know what you think, please.

Rex Dexter of Mars Ad-1940

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Squeak Squeaker Squeak Squeakens

In response to a request for more kittens--Here is Squeak Squeaker Squeak Squeakens discovering the camera! Earlier in the day, she discovered the ceiling fan rather suddenly as I was taping her walking along the bed and she burst off into the distance with a clearly astonished look on her face, only to pop up from behind a pillow moments later cautiously eyeing the situation. Unfortunately, I didn't have the presence of mind to keep filming past the "burst" part so I didn't post that clip. This one is cuuuuuuute!

The Funniest Man Who Ever Lived? # 8--Spike Milligan