Sunday, October 03, 2021

Gloria Steinem Helps Harvey Kurtzman-1960


Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Man Who Never Was the Man Who Never Was-1966

Here we see a short-lived ABC television series from 1966-67 starring Robert Lansing. The plot had him as an international spy on the run from enemy agents. Miraculously, he runs into a man who is his exact double. The agents kill that man by mistake, and the real spy decides to "become" him. AS it happens, he was an abusive, alcoholic schnook so everyone from the guy's own wife (who catches the replacement immediately) on down are kind of happy he's "changed"

Lansing was perfect for this role. Never a great actor but a great TV star, he had already played authority figures in leading roles in 87TH PRECINCT, 12 O'CLOCK HIGH, and he would go on to play Gary Seven in the much loved but unsold backdoor pilot on STAR TREK, "Assignment Earth."
BUT...he wasn't the original star of THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS. That was, in the first pilot, Canadian actor Don Harron. While the handsome, robust Harron certainly looked the part, apparently someone at the network balked at toplining a Canadian actor with little US experience at that time. Thus, Lansing took over for the brief run.

Don Harron didn't do too badly for himself, though, as just a few years later, he appeared for the first time as Charlie Farquharson, a role that would make him quite famous in the United States over that country-corn series' long and successful run on network, in first run syndication, and in perpetual reruns! Of course, I doubt most Americans could pick out the REAL Don Harron in a crowd! :P


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Paul Simon and St. Cecilia

“Cecilia” was the first song I ever heard on the radio by Simon and Garfunkel. I think I had seen them on TV earlier but this was the first record I came to know of theirs. It was also the first reggae-influenced song I had ever heard as far as I know. Story seemed simple enough. Girl cheats on a guy and then goes back to him and he’s happy. 

Not having been raised Catholic, I was today old when I first heard that St. Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians! 

A better interpretation of the song would be: a musician is writing a new song in his bedroom. He takes a break and when he gets back to it, he’s lost his inspiration, which makes him both frustrated and sad. He now hears other musicians playing new songs when he can’t. He prays to St. Cecilia to return his inspiration. Eventually, his muse does return to him and he is excited and happy again. 


Saturday, September 25, 2021

Batman at Shea Stadium

No idea where Burt Ward was when all this happened but in spite of the huge bat-buildup, the results were less than impressive. In interviews after the fact, Adam West routinely quoted different large numbers as far as how much money he made off the appearance, giving the impression he was pulling it out of the air each time.


Monday, September 13, 2021

They're Back! Batman Seasons 1 and 2 Essays

Yep, they're back. Let's just ignore the gory details of what happened but these two anthologies of great essays (if I do say so, myself) on BATMAN seasons 1 and 2, respectively, are once again available both as books and for Kindle.

My own essays on Zelda the Great and Clock King appear alongside those of an august grouping that includes Will Murray, Peter David, Robert Greenberger, Paul Kupperberg, Peter Sanderson and many more well-known names, all edited by Jim Beard (GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES) with Rich Handley.

Available again NOW!


Wednesday, September 08, 2021

The Star Trek at 55 Roundtable

 I was pleased and honored to be involved with this.

Fifty five years ago today, Star Trek premiered, changing popular culture forever.

Created by Gene Roddenberry,Trek introduced the crew of the Starship Enterprise; Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and James Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (James Doohan). The Enterprise explored space, the final frontier for three seasons and sixty nine episodes, followed by two seasons and twenty two episodes of animated advenures, and eventually six feature films with the original cast, the mission remained the same, “explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.” In 2009, Paramount recast the crew with younger actors who teamed up for three feature films.

Today, we’re celebrating the legacy of the Original Series with several people who’s life and careers have been influenced by the series.

I’d like to personally tribute today’s discussion to Bjo Trimble, who with her husband, John, were responsible for not only leading the “Save Star Trek” campaign, but also were instrumental in helping establish science fiction fan conventions. Bjo is also the author of the Star Trek Concordance and her memoir, On the Good Ship Enterprise: My 15 Years with Star Trek. 

Bjo enthusiastically wanted to be a part of this, but is dealing with some health issues and wasn’t able to participate. Bjo, we wish you could be here; live long and prosper.

I’d like to introduce the participants and the discussion will span over several pages.

Please enjoy and share with fellow Trekkies/Trekkers/sci-fi/pop culture fans!

Meet The Players:

  • Stefan Blitz, editor-in-chief of Forces of Geek; your moderator
  • John Trimble, with wife Bjo, was instrumental in both early science fiction conventions and the original “Save Star Trek Campaign”
  • Ian Spelling: veteran journalist and entertainment writer who has written hundreds, probably thousands of Star Trek – related features for magazines, websites, and newspapers. He served as the editor of from 2010 to 2019; has moderated panels at numerous Star Trek events; and co-authored The Making of Star Trek: First Contact and co-author of Star Trek – The Original Series: A Celebration.
  • Peter Briggs, film and television screenwriter and comic book author, best known for Hellboy (2004) with Guillermo del Toro andhigh-profile unproduced films including The Hunt: Alien vs. Predator, Freddy vs. Jason, Judge Dredd, Panzer 88 (with Aaron Mason), and Silverlance (featured in Josh Hull’s new book “Underexposed: The 50 Greatest Movies Never Made)
  • Jeff Bond, journalist, author of The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline and The Music of Star Trek;co-author of Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Art and Visual Effects.
  • Rich Handley, writer/editor for a number of genre properties through such publishers as DC Comics, BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse Comics, IDW, Titan Books, Sequart, and ATB Publishing; former reporter and columnist for Star Trek Communicator magazine; served as the editor of Eaglemoss’sStar Trek Graphic Novel Collection (which ran for 150 in total) and still writes a weekly Star Trek column for its HeroCollector website.
  • Larry Young, writer/publisher/columnist; co-publisher of indie comics company AIT/PlanetLar; writer of their flagship title: Astronauts in Trouble. Writer of the MTV Big Picture Special Edition: The Star Trek Logs with Marina Sirtis
  • Bill Cunningham, Publisher, Pulp 2.0 Press
  • John E. Price, PhD, academic and cultural critic. Life-long /Trekkie. Editor at New Directions in Folklore, award-winning researcher on fan studies and popular culture lore.
  • Carol Pinchefsky, freelance writer of geek culture, technology, science, and business. Her book on the business of geek culture will be out in Q1 2022.
  • Steven Thompson, pop culture writer/editor/researcher; author of The Best of Booksteve’s Libraryand co-author of Run, Holly, Run!: A Memoir by Holly from 1970s TV Classic “Land of the Lost”. 
  • Bob Greenberger, writer/editor for various magazines including Starlog, Comics Scene, Famous Monsters and Weekly World News. He also held editorial positions at both Marvel and DC Comics, which inclded an eight year run editing DC’s Star Trek comic. In addition he’s written/edited/contributed to over 100 books, with almost two dozen Trek related books including Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History. 
  • John Kirk, Freelance journalist, hosts celebrity panels for FanExpo and regular contributor to Pop Mythology; has written about Trek for 1701news, WhatCulture, GeekFeed and Den of Geek. Contributes to Star Wars Insider and Back Issue Magazine.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Thanks, Jack Kirby!


The Grand Comics Database says FOREVER PEOPLE # 1 hit the stands on December 1st, 1970. I had started sixth grade in September of that year and would turn 12 in January of ’71. I had been very close with a girl at my school since third grade and, in fact, we had our first date—to see CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG—two full years earlier in December of 1968. By 1970, she and I had both had growth spurts and were starting to feel…well, we didn’t have a clue, actually. Our school didn’t even have a sex ed class yet. Didn’t matter. Her family moved a million miles away in November (actually only about a 15-minute drive but what did I know? I was a kid!) and outside of a couple visits to their new house and a year or so of increasingly less frequent phone calls and letters, we never saw each other again.


But that meant by the end of 1970, I was free to “play the field.” After years as the chubby, nerdy kid in school, I had lost weight, stopped wearing my glasses, started wearing fringed leather vests, peace symbol medallions, and love beads, plus I had grown out my sideburns. (My parents still wouldn’t let me grow my hair). I found myself actually trying to fit in and impress the other girls in class. 


As far as comic books, I was still making my weekly trek to get them and I was buying more than ever in spite of the fact they’d gone up to fifteen cents a couple of years earlier. But I wasn’t enjoying them as much. The great Atom stories I used to love had been replaced by a combined ATOM & HAWKMAN title, with barely any room for good stories. My favorite, FANTASTIC FOUR, had been clearly treading water for a couple of years. X-MEN and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS had been canceled. The epic Legion of Superheroes—for which I had my first letter printed in ADVENTURE COMICS in 1968!—had been relegated to pointless backup tales with only two or three members. GREEN LANTERN (with the very different Green Arrow) was beautifully drawn then but kept getting preachier by the month! Even my beloved SPIDER-MAN was coasting toward what I would consider its first of several shark-jumping moments (the eight arms story that hit later in ’71). And to top it all off came the news that Jack Kirby had left Marvel completely. 


I only had one comic book collecting friend left at that point. Just about everyone else I knew seemed to look down on them again after they had been cool for a while when the BATMAN TV show was on from ’66-’68. My parents had put up with my collecting for four years and my mother had stopped randomly tossing stacks of my comics out but my parents never let me forget that they were taking up too much space, too much of my time, and that they were a fire hazard.


One December day after school I came home with a stack of comic books and I sat on the couch reading some that night. I just flipped through them, mostly, realizing I wasn’t enjoying them as much as I always had and daydreaming about how if I’d saved that money, I could've ask Cheri McPherson in my class to go to the movies with me. I talked myself into it. It was time to grow up and put away my childish things. I got up from the living room couch and went to my room to mess with my Captain Action dolls. Ahem! 

Unbeknownst to me, the remaining unread comics slid down the side of the couch.


I’m not sure how long it was—surely no more than a few days to a week—that my mother, cleaning off the couch, found those remaining comics and put them on the coffee table. Later that night I saw them and told myself I might as well read them. On top was FOREVER PEOPLE # 1, its cover slightly torn on the bottom due to having been stuffed down the side of the couch. 


As I flipped through it, it quickly became obvious that it wasn’t just more of the same old-same old. So many fascinating Kirby concepts and, outside of old familiar Superman, they were all completely new! The Boom Tube, the Super Cycle, Mother Box, Inter-Gang, Supertown, Infinity Man, Beautiful Dreamer, Darkseid! What the heck was happening here? And all the hip young heroes, just like I was imagining myself to be a hip young hero then!


What had I been thinking? I couldn’t give up comic books now, just as King Kirby arose again, promising a renaissance! I resumed my weekly trek to my comics stores immediately, without missing a beat, and kept my eyes open for DC Kirby comics going forward! 


Meanwhile, at school, I gave Cheri McPherson my love beads and a couple days later she got mad at me about something and threw them back at me. The heck with that, I thought, and ended up postponing dating for another nine years, until I was 21. Instead I immersed myself in comics more than ever, particularly as comic book shops and conventions began to turn up and I discovered comics fandom. 

It was a great time to be a comic book fan, and if not for Jack Kirby, I might have missed it.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Silent Cartoonist--Harry Langdon

While searching old online newspapers for something completely unrelated, I came across this interesting tidbit from 1935, that silent movie star comedian Harry Langdon--arguably the 5th most popular after Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and Arbuckle--was also a cartoonist. A little more digging and I found a few more related pieces from the 1920s. 

Have yet to discover of the book mentioned above or the comic strip mentioned below ever became a reality. 


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Booksteve's Lost Blog-2014

Fan of my various blogs? Well, then, here's something you might like. HOLLYWOOD CLASSIC ANNOTATED MOVIE ADS is a blog I started in 2014 that never even went public! The layout is unfinished and the logo a placeholder but before I lost interest, I did do 31 posts that no one has ever seen before! I kept thinking I'd move them to one of my other blogs but that never happened. Check 'em out and let me know what you think!


Monday, August 16, 2021

Crime Comics Confidential

CRIME COMICS CONFIDENTIAL is a book I did behind the scenes work on for
Steven Brower, Craig Yoe, and Clizia Gussoni a couple years back. Was surprised and pleased to see it show up in today's mail! Was even more surprised and pleased to see it's a really impressive package, extra-large sized and--as with all Yoe Books--with reproduction from the original comics pages, not that glossy recolored stuff Marvel and DC somehow manage to screw up so often. Everyone talks about horror comics in the 1950s but it was never just horror comics that drew the ire of the critics--In fact, it was mainly CRIME comics. And here you'll find the best--or worst, if you will--of those!

You can order your copy here.


Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Nixon, Ford and the Fantastic Four


Spider-Man artist John Romita inherited Marvel's FANTASTIC FOUR when Jack Kirby left in 1970. Here, in his first storyline, we see President Richard M. Nixon, complete with a joking reference to his daughter Tricia. 

When this story was reprinted in the UK a few years later, however, Nixon had resigned in disgrace in the U.S. and Gerald Ford was then President. Marie Severin replaced Jazzy Johnny's Tricky Dick with Jerry, no problem, but someone accidentally left the "Tricia" reference in, making it seem as though Ford was consulting Nixon's daughter.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Donald Rumsfeld and the Great Society Comic Book


THE GREAT SOCIETY COMIC BOOK was one of the very first comics I collected and believe me it wasn't easy convincing my mother to pay a DOLLAR for a comic book at a time when they were all twelve cents. Interesting to note the last story here, an early appearance of Donald Rumsfeld, himself later to be widely targeted by cartoonists. 


Friday, July 16, 2021

Booksteve's Origins

Hitting local comic shops next week should be both of these issues from TwoMorrows. COMIC BOOK CREATOR contains the first of my regular column,  "Once Upon a Long Ago," (see above) while this BACK ISSUE features my history of Rocky and Bullwinkle comic books, "I Read the Moose Today" or "What's a Nice Squirrel Like You Doing in Comics Like These?" 


Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Heaven Can Wait (Here Comes Mr. Jordan)--1960

IMDB has incorrect info on this DUPONT SHOW OF THE MONTH from 1960. IMDB describes the plot of the 1943 movie with Don Ameche and Laird Cregar, HEAVEN CAN WAIT, when, in fact, this show was a TV adaptation of the earlier, 1941 movie, HERE COMES MR. JORDAN, which was based on the 1938 stage play, HEAVEN CAN WAIT. Got it?

Robert Montgomery fronted the original as Joe Pendleton, a boxer who dies before his time and is given the chance by the angelic Mr. Jordan and his assistant (Claude Rains and Edward Everett Horton) to go back, but in the body of a millionaire who happened to be the target of his own wife and her lover. He confides in his old boxing manager, played by the great James Gleason. 

A 1940s radio adaptation gave Cary Grant a chance at the lead.

In the 1950s, there were numerous revivals of the stage play under its original title. One, in 1957, actually starred future bestselling author Robert Ludlum as Joe.

In 1978, Warren Beatty switched the boozing background to a football field but produced a lovely, hilarious, and faithful remake which he also co-wrote (with Elaine May) and co-directed (with Buck henry) as well as starred in. James Mason admirably took on the role of Mr. Jordan with Jack Warden as the loyal football coach.

Chris Rock even did a version later on!

In between, though, and completely forgotten today, was the 1960 DUPONT SHOW OF THE MONTH adaptation of HEAVEN CAN WAIT. 

Tony Franciosa--not yet known as a problem actor--was Joe and the great British character actor Robert Morley was the new Mr. Jordan. TV's MISTER PEEPERS--Wally Cox--was his bumbling assistant and Joey Bishop the fight manager. Elizabeth Ashley made her TV debut in the show. 

As you'll see, reviews were mixed. Does the show still exist? Possibly, but not online as near as I can tell.