Saturday, November 30, 2013

Yoe Books For Christmas

My pal Craig Yoe seems to be everywhere lately, almost as if he were Santa Claus! And in a way, he IS! Craig and Clizia Gussoni are the brains behind Yoe Books' passionate drive to collect and revive long-neglected comic books and strips.  

Check their site for details on all of Craig's wonderful volumes and order a few for Christmas for yourself or for the comics fans on your list! No one will be disappointed!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Captain Marvel Jr by Uderzo

A long time ago on this blog, we ran the above panels from a 1950 Captain Marvel, Jr. story published only in France and illustrated by the great ASTERIX artist Albert Uderzo. In 2009, it was announced that the story would be collected along with other early Uderzo works. If it ws, I missed it, but I have gathered a few more pages and pieces of artwork from it, picked up at various blogs and websites over the years.

The villain of the piece is rather obviously visually based on the Lev Gleason character, Mr. Crime...

or at least on the same character HE was based on, Mr. Coffee Nerves from the Postum Sunday strip ads of the day.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

More Superman Day Stuff

Just recently transcribed an interview with a major player at Superman Day at the 1940 World's Fair but sadly it did NOT solve the mystery of who played Superman that day. Still looking of more info. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Little Lulu Around the World

Tomorrow at our sister blog, FOUR-COLOR SHADOWS, we'll have a holiday visit from John Stanley's wonderful LITTLE LULU. Today, here's a brief glimpse at Lulu around the world!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bob Barker and the Three Stooges

In late 1969, I was at my friend Jeff's house early one evening and the TV in his living room was on. The show was TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, starring Bob Barker. We weren't paying that much attention to it as we were playing with action figures. But then Bob brought out some special guests--THE THREE STOOGES! As a lifetime Stooge fan, I was literally astonished--which is why I remember it so well--to see just how SHORT they were!

Turns out Bob topped out at 6'1" and Larry and Moe are both listed at 5'4". Little did I realize that someday I would top out at 5'6" before "settling" down to 5'4".

Monday, November 25, 2013

Comic Book Creator # 3 Now Available

I received my contributor copies today so I would expect that the 3rd great issue of COMIC BOOK CREATOR will be hitting stores this week or next and is available to order now at the link over in the right column.

Personally, I worked on the epic-length Neal Adams cover story, the Sean Howe interview and the piece on THE FIFTH BEATLE's Vivek Tiwary (who's all over the news lately including today on MSNBC and coming up soon on TODAY.

Other features creators this issue include Tom Yeates, Joshua Dysart, Earl Norem, Les Daniels and the always amazing Mark Waid (arguably the best comic book writer of the best few decades).

Add a lively letters column debate and Fred Hembeck's always welcome comics and it's definitely worth your attention if you're reading this blog!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dr Who Trivia In My Life

The first DR WHO book I ever read was GENESIS OF THE DALEKS. At the time, I had never seen a DR WHO episode.

Tom Baker was my first TV Doctor, starting with ROBOT circa 1979.

A friend of mine went to England in the early eighties and brought me back DR WHO mags about the NEW Doctor, Peter Davison. It would be months before we’d see him locally here in the US.

In the early eighties, I always insisted on the opening Saturday shift at work so I’d be home for DR WHO at 10 PM.

My future wife and I first looked twice at each other when I was showing her around the bookstore where we both worked and she went nuts over the DR WHO books as we passed them.

There was a DR WHO convention held in Cincinnati in the eighties with Louise Jameson as guest. I was going to it...but couldn’t find it! I took the bus into town and went to where I thought it was being held but it wasn’t. I wandered around other hotels for a while but no luck so I went home.

I first heard of the DR WHO TV series when FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine published a still of a monster from a Hartnell episode.

The first Doctor I ever saw was Peter Cushing in his 2 mid-sixties feature film adaptations, shown locally on CREATURE FEATURES circa 1970. I sat by the TV with my cassette recorder and audio taped the second one.

In 1996, when the TV movie aired, I was out of town for training for work and watched it sitting alone in my hotel room in Louisville, KY. Afterwards, I called my wife and we discussed it.

In the eighties, I mailordered from the UK a home-made copy of SLIPBACK, the Colin Baker radio version of DR WHO that aired during his series’ downtime.

When my bookstore started selling audio cassettes in 1984, one of the first we sold was, for some reason, DR WHO AND THE PESCATONS, a Tom Baker/Elisabeth Sladen children’s record from 1976. I still have my copy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The White Album at 45

Every time someone invents a new technology, I have one friend who says, “Oh, no! I have to buy the White Album again!

Said “White Album,” of course, is the 2 disc 1968 album by the Fab Four technically entitled simply “The Beatles.”  It was released 45 years ago this week.

But...why THAT album? Many fans argue that it’s their weakest release. Out of 30 official tracks (at a time when most US albums had only about 11), only 4 could be said to be genuine classics but even then not arguably up to the group’s own admittedly high standards.

I bought the LP in the seventies and later the CD in the nineties. That’s it. Well no, I also bought a cassette of it in its very different Mono version as well as one where the whole thing is played backwards!

Personally I find The White Album to be a mish-mash of styles, influences, tributes and parodies. As a Beatles release, I’m one of those who’ve long felt it could have been best-served by being a single disc only, concentrating on the stronger material.

Recorded at a time after Brian’s death and while all four lads (still in their 20’s, remember!) were all feeling a tad full of themselves and yet having no concrete direction creatively, it often seems like a collection of solo material by each Beatle. Much of what makes each individual song interesting can be credited, as always really, to George Martin. It’s not like he could have done it without them but then they couldn’t have done it without him either.

Let’s take a look at each cut, shall we?

BACK IN THE USSR-The album starts strong with this heavy rocker from Paul that features a Beach Boys tribute. Most of the songs here were written while the group was in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Beach Boy Mike Love had been there with them.

DEAR PRUDENCE-A sleepy song with a consistent beat from John but nothing all that special.

GLASS ONION-Self-referential lyrics and a driving beat but doesn’t really go anywhere.

OB-LA-DI-OB-LA-DA-It’s aged better than some of the songs but it’s still just a fun little bit of Paulie fluff. Lennon is said to have considered this the worst Beatles recording.

WILD HONEY PIE-Seriously? Name one other group who could have gotten this unfinished goofiness on an album in the first place.

THE CONTNUING STORY OF BUNGALOW BILL-Notorious for featuring Yoko’s voice on a Beatles record, it’s a catchy John tune but pretty light both lyrically and musically for what was expected from him in that period.

WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS-One of George’s masterpieces but he had to bring Eric Clapton in on guitar to make it so.

HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN-This one seems to be John just putting words together to see how they sound. The middle section is clearly from another unfinished song entirely.

MARTHA MY DEAR-Macca’s charming little ode to his sheepdog.

I’M SO TIRED-John trying hard to be deep and almost succeeding. But it’s like he has to work at what used to come simply.

BLACKBIRD-Nobody’s definition of rock music, this beautiful piece has legitimately become a classic that’s been covered by scores of other singers and groups.

PIGGIES-Infamous for allegedly inspiring Charles Manson’s nightmarish killing spree, it’s really just a heavy-handed Harrison song about social issues of the day.

ROCKY RACCOON-Paul goes country-western with this old-fashioned story ballad, badly sung but with a few good lyrical moments.

DON’T PASS ME BY-Ringo wrote it and sings it with his voice seemingly speeded up a tad. More country music and not particularly good country music.

WHY DON’T WE DO IT IN THE ROAD?-Nothing but a little bit of naughtiness but with a great bass and drum track.

I WILL-One of Paul’s smoothest vocal jobs ever, it’s a pretty but inconsequential little love song.

JULIA-John’s equally beautiful tribute to his mother and his new love, Yoko.

BIRTHDAY-Not just a perennial favorite for birthdays and McCartney concerts through the years, this has some of the best instrumental work the Beatles ever did.

YER BLUES-John again trying to be deep and again nearly succeeding, this time in a bluesy number. It’s essentially a preview of the TMI songs to come on most of his solo records.

MOTHER NATURE’S SON-John Denver sort of adopted this Paul song as his theme song years later and it fit him more than it fit Paul.


SEXY SADIE-John making fun of Maharishi with whom he was by then disillusioned.

HELTER SKELTER- Although also associated with the Manson murders, this one’s rep has grown through the years. A solid rocker about a playground slide, there exist some versions that are more than 10 minutes long!

LONG ,LONG, LONG-This time it’s George putting the listener to sleep.

REVOLUTION 1-There are two versions of this that were released—the wonderful rock version on the single and this sing-song version. Sigh...

HONEY PIE-Not as bad as HONEY PIE but a million miles from rock music. Music hall silliness.

SAVOY TRUFFLE-Lyrically, this is a song about Eric Clapton eating so much candy he might rot his teeth but it’s musically a strong piece.

CRY BABY CRY-John again with the sleepytime stuff—a dirge-like fairy tale song. Attached to the end of this and leading into the next piece is a brief bit of a longer McCartney song entitled CAN YOU TAKE ME BACK which can be found in its entirety on some bootlegs.

REVOLUTION 9-Let’s face it, love it or hate it, it’s this mega-length experimental tape loop mix, mostly from John, that shows that the Beatles really were still leading the way. And then there’s those backwards bits! Turn me on dead man, indeed!

GOOD NIGHT-And finally, Ringo’s turn to put everyone to sleep...literally. With its massive over-orchestration and production, this is often said to be a parody but I can’t help but think its just exactly the type of thing it’s said to be parodying.

Okay. Now. That said...I LOVE THIS ALBUM! The White Album’s actual greatest strength is in its overwhelming diversity. There is quite literally something for everyone. Very little of what’s on the album can be categorized as rock music and yet every bit of it, in the context of the career of the world’s most influential rock group, is amazing! ROCKY RACOON was covered by Benny Goodman’s Orchestra! BLACKBIRD became a harmony staple for CSN! Sheepdog Martha became world-famous! REVOLUTION became a Nike ad...controversially.

Listening to this album with the benefit of hindsight, it becomes obvious the Beatles were both growing up and growing apart. There were NO singles from this album when it was new. Had it been anyone but the Beatles, a large portion of the songs herein would be written off and forgotten—if they’d been recorded at all. But the Lads had the power to self-indulgently get anything they wanted recorded in 1968 and that’s exactly what they did. George Martin’s always impeccable production heightened every single piece to a level many probably didn’t even deserve. Through the years, every single cut on this album has been analyzed to death in books, articles, blogs and even classes! Simply because it was, as the record’s actual title so succinctly put it, The Beatles.

For the record, here’s my take on what might have been a great single disc release at the time.

Side 1

6-REVOLUTION (the single version)

Side 2


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Sea Serpent by Mickey Spillane

From a 1940's SUB-MARINER comic book.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Attractions-Mad About the Wrong Boy

Back when I was buying record albums, one that I never was able to find was the one solo album by Elvis Costello's backing band, The Attractions. The other day, I realized this was the Internet and what do you know? And it's good!

The Book Thief-Trailer

Rooty Toot Toot

I've always loved the modernized limited animation style of UPA and John Hubley in the fifties. Here's one of the classic Jolly Frolics.

Dave Garroway on What's My Line?

I recently transcribed an interview with a gentleman who worked regularly with Dave Garroway. Most of Garroway's public life was before my time but I've always been fascinated by him. Here he is on WHAT'S MY LINE?

Nancy Silberkleit on Educating With Comics

The other day, I found myself in a conversation on Facebook about how I learned to read from carrying a copy of X-MEN # 11 with me everywhere for weeks when I was 5 years old. Now, here's this recent talk about the importance of comics as educational tools from controversial Archie Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit. Put aside any pre-conceived notions and listen to her passionate message. Comics can be used in SO many ways in education that are barely being tapped!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Patsy and Hedy's Dreamdust-1966

This is ostensibly a column written in the Patsy and Hedy series by Patsy and Hedy. What it actually is is one of those "Hollywood gossip" features used as filler in comic books going all the way back ti the 1930's. 

Interesting to note it says that Sean Connery is finishing up ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. Not true, of course. Considering the date, he would have been finishing YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. Of course, George Lazenby ended up doing OHMSS two years later.

The 007 spoof CASINO ROYALE is also referenced, noting that Terence Stamp plays one of 3 Bonds opposite David Niven and Peter Sellers.  Only Terence Stamp isn't IN that film.  In 2013, however, he revealed he turned DOWN the actual 007 role after Connery walked out not long after this.

Then there's a nice piece on the still active in 2013 David "Ducky" McCallum and mention of the coming of the GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E., misspelling Stefanie Powers' name.

Pause for a quick self-serving plug for Marvel cartoons.

Page 2 offers some speculation that Lt. Gerard might turn out to be the rap killer on THE FUGITIVE. Never happened.

A hint about Sonny and Cher's upcoming attempt at film stardom is followed by a non-news item about Elke Sommer who was everywhere in TV and movies at that time.

Hah! The Lovin' Spoonful--a bunch of Americans and a Canadian--are described as "six veddy meddy chaps from Beatle country" are said to be "knocking US audiences out." The Who are described as having "a nice melodic touch." Yep. That's the first thing I think of is their soft, lovely melodies.

The mention of Toni Wine reminds that she was indeed a songwriter before becoming known as "Betty AND Veronica" in the Archies records of a couple of years later.

The last page makes reference to the Rolling Stones' "soon-to-be-released movie, ONLY LOVER LEFT ALIVE." This was to have been a science-fiction film based on a 1964 novel by Dave Wallis. The Stones' management was to produce and the group to be paid a cool million to appear and sing new songs. Nicholas Ray was attached as director. Outside of what it says here about recording for the film, nothing ever came of the project but a  few press conferences.

That seems to be Marie Severin art on the fashions by the way.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Alan Moore

Alan Moore turns 60 today. It seems like only yesterday I discovered his writing for the first time in his second SWAMP THING issue. That was around the same time that my local comic shop started carrying 2000AD both new and old. I grew to truly appreciate and enjoy Mr. Moore's writing in his little one-off tales, some of which remain amongst my favorite comics stories of all time. But he also did SKIZZ--a better version of ET than ET. And THE BALLAD OF HALO JONES--a philosophical soap in sci-fi trappings. And DR AND QUINCH--an unsettling anarchistic black comedy series about destructive alien teens.

My comic shop also started carrying DAREDEVILS, the great Marvel UK title in which Alan Moore too over the CAPTAIN BRITAIN strip and used it to skewer comics tropes. He also wrote articles and other comics and text stories for the mag, showing off his great love and understanding of comics history and tradition.

Things got even better with the coming of WARRIOR. WARRIOR presented both V FOR VENDETTA and MARVELMAN, the latter becoming one of my all-time favorite comics series.

Meanwhile in the US, Moore's popularity continued to grow and his SWAMP THING lead quite directly to the creation of Vertigo, DC's line of more adult comic books.

WATCHMEN followed next. It seems fashionable to put it down these days but it was like nothing we'd ever seen before at the time and the author's collaboration with artist Dave Gibbons was amongst the most perfect team-ups in comic history.

But good things can't last. Alan Moore grew too big for traditional comic books, both in popularity and--some say--in his own mind. Already an eccentric, his later works, although almost always still tinged with his mad brilliance, never quite seemed as good or as focused. Some, like LOST GIRLS, were considered major missteps.

The man himself became more and more MOORE. He has a history of burning bridges both with individuals and with well as fans. His interviews have become more petulant, more arcane and more frustrating. His work has become less and less available and what IS available, he has often insisted his name be removed.

While it may be hard for the average reader, myself included, to grasp where the man is coming from these days, the bottom line remains the same: Alan Moore is one strange dude!

It also remains the same that Alan Moore is indisputably and unquestionably the single best writer to have ever graced the comics field. To paraphrase what Wally Wood used to say about himself, there is only ONE Alan Moore...and he's him!

Happy birthday, Alan Moore, you mad genius, you. And thanks for all the great comics!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Unusual Weather Event"

If I don't post anything else today, it will be because of the "unusual weather event" they're calling for here in Northern Kentucky. After a day of unseasonable warmth, a cold front is expected to push in with 80-100% chance of rain beginning overnight and higher winds. By tomorrow afternoon, they are calling for things to build up continually with us smack dab in a "moderate risk" zone. Torrential rains, lightning, hail and straight line winds gusting 50-60 MPH are expected, right now between 4 and 9 Sunday afternoon, finally clearing out as we get toward midnight. They are ALL treating this as potentially dangerous weather, not just a patch of bad weather. With my PTSD after the two basement floods and the recent Philippines disaster, I'm fighting panic attacks already. Think as many good thoughts as you can that we are spared the worst weather through here. Good vibrations always help! Thanx!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Big Shot Ending

I've been waiting 64 years to read the 2nd and last part of the SPARKY WATTS story in 1949's BIG SHOT COMICS # 103...and that's not easy since I'm only 54 and just read the first part for the first time about a year or so ago. That said, someone has finally uploaded a copy of issue # 104 and I finally found out whom Sparky chose between his newly disabled sweetheart and her manipulative sister.


Friday, November 15, 2013

New Booksteve Rarities Update

This month we have a spiffy new, updated site all together but here are a few recently added highlights.

Calvin Clements, Jr. was nominated in 1981 for an Edgar as author of the teleplay for this entertaining film featuring Kevin Dobson as Mike Hammer, hardened New York private investigator created by Mickey Spillane, loosely based upon Spillane's first novel: "I, The Jury," (the movie being a pilot for a television series that did not happen) and including characters who recur in the Hammer series, such as his Girl Friday, Velda (Cindy Pickett) and N.Y.P.D. Detective Captain Pat Chambers (Charles Hallahan).  

SON OF SINBAD (1950) in 3-D
Legendary pirate and adventurer Sinbad is in single-minded pursuit of two things: beautiful women and a substance called Greek Fire--an early version of gunpowder. Stars Dale Robertson, Sally Forest, Lili St. Cyr, Mari Blanchard and Vincent Price. This is the 3-D version with complimentary pair of glasses.

For fans of Colleen Moore and Little Orphan Annie, this is a rare silent gem. Little Orphant Annie is based on the story by James Whitcomb Riley, who appears as narrow for the story. It tells the tale of a child whose mother dies and she is sent to the orphanage at a young age. There, she develops a skill of telling wild tales to the other children which leads to some fantastic early special effects to bring the story to life. As she gets older and is forced to live with her mean uncle, the story elevates.

The sequel to the original 1958 Steve McQueen movie. A technician brings a frozen specimen of the original Blob back from the North Pole. When his wife accidentally defrosts the thing, it terrorizes the populace, including the local hippies, kittens, and bowlers. The only feature film ever directed by actor Larry Hagman, whose only previous efforts in the director's chair were three episodes of I DREAM OF JEANNIE.

All six Billy the Kid Westerns starring Bob Steele are complete in this two-disc set, BILLY THE KID IN TEXAS (1940), BILLY THE KID'S GUN JUSTICE (1940), BILLY THE KID'S RANGE WAR (1941), BILLY THE KID, OUTLAWED (1940), FIGHTING PALS (1941) and BILLY THE KID IN SANTA FE (1941). This is a two-disc set.

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES  (1981 Russian version)
You know the story... haunted curse and a death hound on the moors. This is the 1981 Russian version (with English subtitles) and may just be one of the very few faithful adaptations. Not available on DVD anywhere else.

This two-disc set contains all eight half-hour cartoons from 1966, the short-run animated series based on the classic horror movie of the same name. Also included are the TOM OF T.H.U.M.B. spy spoof cartoons.

This made-for-TV movie stars Loni Anderson in the role of blonde bombshell Thelma Todd who, in the 1930s, died a mysterious death. Credited as a consultant, the author of the book for which this movie was based on was on hand during filming to ensure the movie was as historically accurate as possible.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Martin and Lewis Puppets

"Not just a toy but a complete TV show in your own home...!" It says here. I don't know. Looks to me like a couple of the old fashioned rubber (or "Vinylite") and fabric hand puppets that you move around through a box while miming them to a short recording of Dean and Jerry. But apparently you can charge admission as it does come with tickets! To say nothing of that "autographed" photo of Dean and Jerry.