Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Aristocrats of Comics

You all know the joke by now. There was a movie about it even. The comic describes an act that consists of the most vile, disgusting, perverted things he can think of and, when asked the name of the act, he replies--"The Aristocrats."

Here in this small 1940's DC ad, we see a comic book described using the words, "strange," "unusual,""weird powers," "hard-smashing fists," "relentless warfare," "hovering hosts of hate," "action" and "suspense!"

What's this comic called? MORE FUN, of course!

MORE FUN--The Aristocrats of comics!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Criswell Predicts-1976

From a 1976 issue of CREEM, some typically ridiculous predictions from Ed Wood's favorite seer, Criswell. Did ANY of his predictions ever come true?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blackhawk Casting

Last night on Facebook, Alan Kupperberg opined that CHEYENNE star Clint Walker might have been good casting as BLACKHAWK. I agreed. Made me want to cast the rest of the Magnificent Seven! See below for my choices, then feel free to offer yours!

Kirk Alyn played Blackhawk in his only cinematic appearance in a late multi-chapter serial. He was, as he was as Superman, okaaaaay....but....missing some gravitas. Clint Walker, circa 1960, has gravitas.

We're choosing from all time periods here. HOGAN'S HEROES' bumbling John Banner was a good actor and visually looked the part of Hendy, if a little too broad.

My very first choice for Olaf was Bo Svenson.

Although English, not French, actor Tom Conway circa 1940--a few years younger than this pic--could be a great Andre.

Mouseketeer and cowboy sidekick Jimmie Dodd very much looks the part of Chuck.


Stan is a tough one but I went with Van Johnson circa 1947.

And finally, the great Keye Luke as a much less stereotyped Chop-Chop.

Oh, and just for good measure, Lady Blackhawk would be Veronica Lake!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Long Sam

Here you see, courtesy of Steve Cottle of the I LOVE COMICS archive, three non-sequential mid-fifties Sundays from a comic strip I would love to see collected as, I know, would a lot of other people. I first heard of LONG SAM when I was a teenager and ran across an old suitcase in a storage area that my mother hadn't used in two decades , still packed from her last use. Along with old scarfs, a sweater and long atrophied makeup was a copy of a 1955 Sunday paper from North Carolina...and the one strip in it I had never heard of was LONG SAM.  

Created by Al Capp as a kind of distaff version of his already classic LI'L ABNER, it was quickly turned over to the cartoonist's brother Eliot Caplin. Art the whole time was provided by Bob Lubbers who, I found out later, had worked in comic books and had a run on the syndicated TARZAN strip as well.

This is the Golden Age of comic book reprints. Somebody needs to reprint gems like this well-drawn and written strip!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

When Micky Met Paul-1967

Two of the greatest voices in 20th century pop music, both still going strong in 2013.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

You Never Forget Your First Issue

They say you never forget your first time...for anything. Well, seen here are the very first issues I ever bought of certain comic book titles. I had looked at comics for as long as I could remember, even teaching myself to read partly via a copy of X-MEN # 11. It wasn't until Batmania hit in the early months of 1966 that I actually started buying and keeping--i.e. collecting--comic books. I always credit the above BATMAN as my first collected comic. Looking at the dates, it seems I gravitated toward more DC before I really started paying any attention to Marvel. I didn't discover Steranko's Nick Fury until more than a year later...and then only because Cap, by then a favorite, guest-starred!

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Lana Turner Story Revisited--The Definitive Version

In recent months, it has come to my attention that several folks I've known for years had not heard my Lana Turner story. In 2005, I posted it on my blog and I've told it endlessly but for those who haven't, here is the revised, definitive version of it:

Lana Turner changed my life. Okay, I know, probably hundreds of men can say that for a hundred different reasons but I’m pretty sure mine is unique. 

In my case, Lana Turner acted as a benchmark, one of those amazingly unlikely coincidences that happen from time to time that reassure you that you’re on the right path. In fact, in my case, she unknowingly set me on the path in the first place and then, many years later, this photograph appeared that cinched that I was where I was meant to be.

You see, I’ve always been a film buff and a movie fan (Two very different things, by the way). Even as a child, I could see that there was something special about the classic movie stars that just wasn’t present anymore in today’s flavor of the minute. I loved Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Cagney, Bogart and even the Dead End Kids. I was, however, never really a big fan of Lana Turner. In fact, the only time I particularly cared for Lana was in her pre-glamour days. Still, I liked old-time movie stars and there was no denying that Lana was one of the biggest.

Thus it was that on a September day in 1982, when I heard announcer Bill Myers say that Lana was going to be the guest on THE BOB BRAUN SHOW (a live Midwest talk show that ran for ages. If you aren’t familiar with it, trust me. It was huge! Look for Bob in a bit part in DIE HARD II.) I decided to spend my lunchtime watching the show. I was 23 and living at home, working part time as overnight maintenance at a great metropolitan newspaper and wishing I had a better job and a girlfriend.

On the show, Lana was, as one would expect, an interesting and charming guest. She looked fantastic as she hawked her now out-of-print autobiography "Lana: The Lady, The Legend, The Truth."

Throughout the interview, Bob kept plugging the fact that, an hour after the show, Lana would be appearing downtown at Shillitos department store to sign her book. Again, she may not have been a favorite of mine but she was a major movie star and I decided I had to go see her.

I walked across the bridge from Northern Kentucky into downtown Cincinnati. It was a hot day so I stopped into Waldenbooks along the way to cool off before walking the additional two blocks to where Lana was to be appearing. The manager asked if he could help me find something and I told him I was going up the street to see Lana Turner. He said he’d give me a job if I could talk her into coming down and signing some books for him, too.

Well, as it happened, it was one of those roped off, line number affairs and since I hadn’t planned on actually buying the book, I simply contented myself to say I saw her from a distance. She had been through a lot--much of it very publicly-- but was quite lovely and elegant that day. She gave every impression of being, at least at that stage of her life, a very delightful woman.

On the way home, I thought it only polite to stop in and tell the bookstore manager of my failure to get within ten feet of Ms. Turner so I did just that. To my surprise he offered me a position anyway and, even though I wasn't really in need of employment, a few days later I took him up on it. 

For most of the next 26 years I would work in or manage bookstores. A year after I started I was promoted to Assistant Manager at a different location. Four years later, I transferred to a third store. Six years into my bookstore career, a different manager at the branch where I was then working would hire a lovely young lady who, in 1991, became my wife. I never would have met this woman if I hadn't been hired at that first bookstore and I never would have been hired if I hadn't gone to see Lana Turner. 

It doesn’t end there, however. In fact, this is where it gets a little TWILIGHT ZONE-ish. 

A few years later a local photographer named T. Alan Hartman published a fun book entitled GUESS WHO’S COMING TO CINCINNATI. It  featured pictures he had taken of celebrities in town going back to the early seventies. It was a nice book and my bookstore had a signing with him that went reasonably well. It wasn’t until some time later, though, that I was able to look through the book at length and, lo and behold, there was a photograph he had taken of Lana Turner on that long ago day in 1982 leaving the TV studio after appearing on the show I'd just watched and heading toward the department store where I would soon see her!

Okay, that’s cool. What turns it into a true TWILIGHT ZONE moment is that, standing directly behind Lana Turner in that my future mother-in-law!!!!  My mother-in law, whose daughter I would never have met, married or fathered a child with if NOT for watching Lana Turner on television that fateful day that very photo was taken. In one click of the shutter, Hartman captured a benchmark of my entire future. It was meant to be! I was in the place I was destined to be!

For her part, my mother-in-law, now passed, remembered having been working a temp job downtown at the time. She had stopped in at the TV studio to have lunch at their commissary and was heading back to work. She vaguely remembered pictures being taken but had no clue that Lana Turner had been the woman in front of her.

In 2003, Bill Myers, the BOB BRAUN SHOW announcer whose introduction convinced me to watch the show that day was at a my store for a friend’s autographing and I was able to share this story with him. 

I tried to contact Cheryl Crane, Lana’s daughter, to tell her of this weird coincidence but she is (understandably if you know more about Lana Turner’s life) hard to reach. I did eventually get hold of her, however, and share this story with her which pleased her very much. 

So you see, Lana Turner--even though she was never a film favorite of mine--changed my life…in a good way…but she never even knew it.

The photo of Lana and my wife’s mother is copyright by T. Alan Hartman and used without malice but also without permission as I was never able to contact Mr. Hartman again in spite of a number of attempts. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Support Better Things-Jeff Jones

Maria Cabardo has completed her long-awaited documentary on the late artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones and is now raising money for the final phases including distribution. Longtime readers may recall that Jones, a favorite artist for me for 40 years, reached out to me after I wrote about her work here on my blog. We exchanged a number of emails and I encouraged her to get on Facebook. She said others had done the same so she did. And until her passing a few years later, she was able to see just how much Jeff Jones meant to so many, many people. After I go my Mac, she would write me with Mac questions!

It looks to be a unique and fascinating film and I'd appreciate it if you'd consider contributing to it. Right now, with my funds so low, my contribution can only be to spread the word. Here's what Maria said on Facebook and a link to the site where you can help.

Hello everyone! The film is done, but I still need your help and support so I can find a good place that will distribute the film. Without further funding the things I need to do to secure releasing the film for public viewing might not happen. I failed at my last fundraising, and I'm hoping that this time, with your help it might be more successful. I've gotten this far running on deferred payments, its now time to pay those people who generously gave me their time, effort and talent to make this movie happen. Also, any extra money will go to the editing of a new Bonus DVD that features the cut footage of all the interviews. This alone is enough to turn this into another personal crusade for me. Check out:

And please tell your all your friends that I need help on this. Thanks so much. Again.