Saturday, June 30, 2012
It's hard to go wrong with your main character rushing right at the reader on a splash page so new artist George Tuska does just that...only to have a rather obvious John Romita face pasted over Namor. I'm not generally a Vince Colletta basher and I really like the thickness he adds to the Sub-Mariner's arms with his inks here. In fact, the only thing that I don't care for here--and even then it makes me snicker--is the fact that no one seems to be actually standing on the ground! Subby's shadow, in fact, indicates that he is not. The policemen don't even HAVE shadows! And poor Spidey seems almost an add-on.
Friday, June 29, 2012
I always thought the Golden Age pilot hero, Skyman, had a pretty cool look going for himself. Apparently Altoids--the curiously strong mint--thinks so, also. Today, as I git to the bottom of my Altoids container, I found, of all people, SKYMAN! At least a guy inarguably based on Skyman's look. Since SM is in the public domain, it's no big. Just another curious moment from the curiously strong mints!
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I am in receipt of a review copy of the new book, AMERICAN NEWSPAPER COMICS. AN ENCYCLOPEDIC REFERENCE GUIDE. Here are just a few random images from the CD that accompanies the volume. It's not really the kind of a book you read. More the kind you savor and are glad you have when a question comes up about a strip...which for me is surprisingly often. It's supposed to be 103 in the shade today so I'm cocooning here in the AC with this volume and the 3100 images on the CD. Look for a review in the next day or so.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Legendary comics historian and Marvel/ DC writer/editor Roy Thomas on a seventies panel at the 2011 Comic-Con International. Also seen are Walt and Louise Simonson, Len Wein and, in the cowboy hat, Mike Royer. The interviewer's voice is that of Mark (who else?) Evanier.
Dylan made one of his first public appearances after his well-publicized accident and long, reclusive recovery on THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW in 1969. Johnny had the same problem everyone else ecer had in trying to harmonize with Bob. Doesn't help that the sound is off a tad but still a great collaboration.
Here's the first of multiple parts of the 1984 Bob Lang-hosted documentary about The Little Rascals. Many of the then-still-extant Gang appear in new interviews done for this program. You can find subsequent parts on YouTube at the end of this one.
A great favorite in early television, pianist Liberace became more and more flamboyant as time went by. Here he is on one of his own TV specials in 1969, sharing the musical spotlight with Jack Benny. Lee (as his friends called him) never played anything simple if there was a way to play it more elaborately. This is a good example of that.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Seen here, from the Barnes and Noble site, are early, unused versions of covers from some of Craig Yoe's recent books on which I worked. The POPEYE book was changed because it was too non-violent and didn't really reflect the character as people know him.
Kubert's enthusiasm for the 3-D book spilled over into an all-new cover so this early one was retired.
I think this one was just a panel used as filler before Jeff Smith's cover arrived. The title was later changed (new one suggested by my wife, Rene!) so as to distance it from a 1970's European collection of much of the same material done in black and white.
What can I say? Green or orange-brown, it still makes ya go "URP!"
You can order the real products here: http://superitch.com/
Monday, June 25, 2012
Sometimes I feel like Kevin Bacon. It has gotten to the surreal point that I can't watch much of anything anymore without finding a connection to it. The other night I was watching a random episode of SHAZAM from the seventies just because I hadn't seen it in years. One of the main guest stars in that particular episode I was watching (the first of a two-parter) was actor Derrel Maury (MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH). Mr. Maury, a long-time favorite of mine, happens to be one of my current friends on Facebook! In fact, when he saw that I had posted this mage, he was kind enough to give a little anecdotal remembrance.
As I said, I hadn't seen an episode in years. The first thing that struck me was how bad the acting was from the leads! Both teen heartthrob Billy Gray and Jackson Bostwick, the first of two Captain Marvels on the series, read their lines as if it were an initial read-through! Radio veteran Les Tremayne as Mentor was much more natural but had little to do. The voices of the Elders and even the announcer sounded almost amateurish. By contrast, Derrel, the very definition of a good character actor, gives a polished line reading every time. Even the two other younger guest stars show up the regulars!
I know this was a low-budget kids show but people, come on!
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Major plumbing issue hit last week, taxing our already meager resources and sparking another bout of depression. Donations via the button at right are appreciated or better yet, buy something at http://bookstevesbookstore.blogspot.com/ . If you don't like our price, make an offer. Thanx!
Saturday, June 23, 2012
This shouldn't work but it kind of does. Hardly your typical Subby splash but it's nicely "framed," not over-colored and ending on a purposely jarring note with the lettering of the title. Makes ME want to read on, that's for sure!
Friday, June 22, 2012
Reader John Yuskaitis sent along this scan of the original art from a Doug Wildey story we ran here a while back. Seems those last few panels were significantly altered prior to publication, presumably to appease the Comics Code.
John writes: A few years back I had the opportunity to purchase his original artwork for that story and I think I have a gem for you... First off, his artwork is amazing. The printing process of the time and the coloring don't do it justice. The other amazing thing is there is no cover up or pro white until you get to the last page. Page 5 on the last 2 panels looked to have a rubber cement paste up over the lettering. Well, someone had removed what the cover up was and beneath that... a different ending! I am thinking this was done by Doug or someone who knew the story since there was also a few pieces of white masking tape placed over the airplane in panel 5. This had to be done to pass the Comics Code, since the printed ending had Bob living.
Happy to share with all the Doug Wildey fans out there.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Today we drove a friend of ours to the hospital for knee surgery and spent the day there waiting until we knew all was hunky dory. Because of bookdave's recent seizure episodes, we were compelled to take him with us whether or not he wanted to go. He understood, though, and we had some enjoyable conversations while we waited.
Dave's epilepsy meds were updated to the full dosage this week but other than a little tiredness, he's assimilated well. Can't take pills worth a darn, though. Has to chew 'em up! They suggested we have him practice on M&M's. Never heard THAT before.
There is, by the way, now some question as to his specific diagnosis. Seems that JME, which his EEG indicated almost in textbook fashion, has certain symptoms which Dave simply has never shown. According to the Doctor's office, without those symptoms, he simply can't have JME, EEG or no EEG. Still, he had seizures and the treatment is the same as what he's already on. I guess the real issue here is that if he has/had a specific type of epilepsy, things would be more predictable. If he's simply having generalized seizures, who knows where this will go.
No seizures at all on the meds thus far, though---a positive sign!
As far as everything else, he's busy taking online health and PE courses over the summer and reading a number of required books for next year. In fact, he read one at the hospital today!
(In case youre wondering, our friend's operation was a great success all around and she had a very funny surgeon!)
Monday, June 18, 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
With creator Bill Everett's energy gone from the title, sales were apparently limping along. The powers that be decided to reinvent the wheel by giving Subby his black and yellow costume with the underarm wings. Love the idea or hate it, Romita's cover was cool! The corresponding interior shot, however, by Don Heck as inked by Frank Bolle--a good penciller but a bland artist overall--was badly presented and anti-climactic.
As splashes go during this period, though, this one isn't the best drawn but is nicely laid out. Our hero is front and center with some menacing sharks and the inset panel--not overpowering--reveals the villain. I like the title lettering quite a bit, also.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
In 1982 I was 23 years old. My mother had just died, I had my first real job and an actual girlfriend. For the second time in my life, I decided that maybe it was time for me to give up comic books.
And then I rediscovered SWAMP THING.
Martin Pasko and Tom Yeates revived SWAMP THING that year...most likely because of the guy in a rubber suit movie version that had just come out. SWAMP THING had been one of my favorite titles of a decade earlier but the character in these early revival issues had become largely a DC version of The Hulk—a big green guy traveling from place to place helping people while getting chased by homicidal folks thinking he’s a monster. The art was the best thing about it but it wasn’t really enough to keep me coming back for every issue.
Around this time, though, the independent comics boom began and more and more comics shops opened locally. I decided to stick around to see where it would all go. Along the way, in 1984, I started hearing about how SWAMP THING had become DC’s best-written and drawn title. I picked up issue 25…and decided right then and there I could never leave comics again!
The writer was a guy I had never heard of—one Alan Moore. It was, however, without a doubt, the single best-written comic book I had read in ages! Perhaps ever to that point! And the next issue was even better! Before long I would know who Alan Moore was—we all would.
But it wasn’t just the prose! It was the art! Yeates had been attempting to evoke the mood of the original Berni Wrightson issues and succeeding rather well, in retrospect creating, with Pasko, a competent horror comic with stand-alone stories and a wrap-around arc as well.
One of his final issues was inked by a John Totleben, another name I had never heard. His addition clearly added a lush quality that the art had not had before. It continued with Totleben inking new artist Stephen Bissette and then Dan Day on Moore’s first issue. Bissette and Totleben together gave the series an organic feel that worked out beautifully as Moore reinvented the protagonist to emphasize that he is and always has been a plant elemental. At the same time, the art added a unique design sense that had been missing before. And as it was a time of experimentation, DC let them run with it.
Over the next few years, SWAMP THING was consistently the most intelligently written and creatively drawn comic book. It was hard to convince the “outside world” of this but eventually they did take notice. Eventually, it was SWAMP THING’s more adult stories that led directly to DC’s Vertigo imprint, a separate but equal line intended to showcase more mature and/or controversial works of comic art.
All good things must come to an end. Eventually, Bissette left and Totleben took over the full art for some absolutely amazing issues. Rick Veitch was brought in when he also moved on. Veitch was the perfect person to inherit the title as he had that same edgy eccentricity to his art style. When Moore finally left, Veitch even took over the writing for a nice run of similarly outré stories.
All three of the artists worked with Alan Moore again on Image’s 1963 and Moore’s MIRACLEMAN. Veitch drew the controversially explicit birth issue of the latter title while Totleben’s beautiful art starkly contrasted the single most violent comic book story ever published in a later issue.
Bissette went on to create Spiderbaby Graphix. His company produced TABOO, an uncensored anthology series of books that, amongst other things, introduced the world to Alan Moore’s FROM HELL and LOST GIRLS as well as Tim Lucas’s creepy THROAT SPROCKETS, later a novel and now about to become a movie. Later he became a teacher and lecturer.
In spite of some major eye problems, John Totleben has turned out some lovely work in recent years. Rick Veitch created a number of edgy mini-series that deconstructed comics myths and legends and runs his own publisher, King Hell Press.
Taking a somewhat different path, Tom Yeates went on to work on a number of licensed characters in comics and newspaper strips including Michael Jackson’s CAPTAIN EO, CONAN, TARZAN and ZORRO. Currently he’s the artist on the venerable PRINCE VALIANT strip!
All four of these artists made a difference in comics. They helped them grow up. Along the way, they made them much more acceptable for those of us who had also grown up.
The 2012 CINCINNATI COMIC EXPO has announced the first ever SWAMP THING reunion at this year’s two-day show. These guys don’t do conventions anymore. They don’t need to. But they’re doing this one. Tom Yeates, Stephen Bissette, John Totleben and Rick Veitch—together again for the first time!
If you’re a comics fan, these guys are important to you whether you realize that or not. They raised the bar. They made it possible for the best comics of today to be that good. They made it possible for “mature” comics not to be all boobs and buns but genuinely involving. Sometimes even genuinely unnerving.
And they’re coming to Cincinnati in three months. Bissette is on record as simply NOT doing conventions. But he’s coming. Totleben hasn’t been to one in a decade. But he’s coming. Rick Veitch is coming. Tom Yeates is coming. They're all coming to Cincinnati in September.
You should, too.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I've been posting some popular photo galleries of movie, TV, comics and other pop stuff over at Facebook. Here's the public link to one still in progress--a 2nd collection of some of my all-time favorite single comic book issues! Check it out! You can friend me there to see the rest. Just message me as to who you are first. Thanks!
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Saturday, June 09, 2012
Friday, June 08, 2012
I love finding obscure back-up strips in comic books most fans aren't likely to notice much at all. These two hilarious MAD-style strips from the late Richard "Grass" Green are from late sixties issues of Charlton's ABBOTT & COSTELLO. Grass was one of the first fans to turn pro, moving from early sixties fanzines to Charlton in mid-decade. By the early seventies, however, he had taken his always funny schtick to the underground. I've no idea why he never caught on in the mainstream but I've always enjoyed both his serious work and particularly his silly stuff. Here we see some sublime silliness.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Today, at his first appointment with an actual neurologist, he was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Tomorrow he goes on medication to hopefully alleviate the seizures but he will have to be it on the rest of his life.
Today was also his last day at school as a Freshman. After the early morning doctor appointment, he was dropped off at the school for final exams in English, Spanish and Geography. Last week he received no less than seven awards at the school's awards ceremony including a certificate for being at the top of the list for possible Valedictorian.
We're so proud. We're so scared. He doesn't deserve this. Life, if one needed any more proof, isn't fair.
He's taking it all well, no doubt scared but showing only concern that his cognitive skills might be affected.
One thing's for sure. None of this is going to get him out of cleaning his room now that school's out.