Monday, May 10, 2021

That's the Spirit!


We got the last stimulus at the same time we got our tax refund AND my first social security check since I retired in February. We still had a lot left after we caught up on bills so I decided to start RE-collecting DC's SPIRIT ARCHIVES. I had gotten the first six or seven back as they began coming out about 20 years ago but then the $49.95 price just got too much as the economy slowly tanked. Around 2014, I was forced to sell them as we really needed the money. We sold a lot of stuff I haven't really missed but I DID miss the SPIRIT books so... The online bookseller, Hamilton Books had a bunch at only $9.95 to $11.95. I won a few auctions on eBay where I was the only--and low!--bidder, one guy actually donated me two free volumes of which he had extras, and now here we are with 19 out of the 27 total (counting one matching Dark Horse volume). The remaining ones are generally easy to find, albeit slightly more in cost...with a couple volumes actually being MUCH more in cost. The plan is to pick up one a month going forward, and I can rationalize the expensive ones by noting how much money I've saved on these already off that original $49.95 price!

 

 

Monday, May 03, 2021

The Art of Daniel Carter Beard

 


This is me (right) with the statue of Daniel Carter Beard and friend in Covington, KY. The statue, commemorating Beard's role in the creation of the Boy Scouts (an organization that I flunked out of but that's another story) was installed in the late 1980s I believe. It is right around the corner from where I lived between 1966 and 1991. When Rene and I were first courting, she paid to buy one of the sponsored bricks surrounding the area and have both our names put on it. It's still there! We go down and dust leaves off it occasionally. 

Something I just tonight discovered about Beard, though, was that he was an illustrator, and an amazing one at that! Below are a selection of the many beautiful illustrations he provided for an edition of Mark Twain's A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT. 























 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

William M. Gaines Interview-1972

 



 I knew MAD but I first discovered Gaines as anything other than a name when Frank Jacobs' book about him came out in paperback, probably in 1973. Being quite familiar with him nowadays, I see this as quite a good interview, especially for its time.







 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Coming Soon--Booksteve in Back Issue

 


The TwoMorrows site has posted previews of the next three issues of BACK ISSUE to feature articles by me. If anyone is interested, you can see them and all the other great upcoming articles at: https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=98_54

Pre-order now!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Annie Starring Raquel Welch and Carroll O'Conner. Arf!


I posted a couple of clippings a
this January, 1972 CBS TV special on my TV blog a few years back. Here are some more photos I've just run across. 










Bill Hinnant—seen above as Igor—was the live-action Snoopy in the hit play, YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN. Here, he’s Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey. Even Greg Walker didn’t remember this live action Beetle!



 

Monday, April 12, 2021

This is NOT Bill Finger!


Posted at the request of Mark Evanier, whose reasons you will find here: https://www.newsfromme.com/2021/04/12/the-fickle-finger-of-fate/ 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Booksteve Writes!


Sorry there haven't been a lot of posts here recently. Technically, I retired as of last month but I still have a number of writing projects on my plate and hopefully more to follow.

Just out--although I dare you to try to find a copy now--is Volume Two of Jim Beard's episode by episode look at the 1966 BATMAN series by an all-star cast of writers and myself. It featured my essay on the two Clock King episodes, the only time Batman co-creator (REAL creator, some say) Bill Finger ever got a credit for writing Batman in his lifetime. Unfortunately, it was pulled due to a copyright claim after only two weeks! None of the contributors even got a copy. Worse, last years first volume was also pulled from further distribution. It featured my look at Zelda the Great! If the books don't end up getting retooled and republished at some point, I'll probably debut the Clock King piece here on the blog. 

I'm tentatively set to do a DARK SHADOWS piece for a similar book this summer.
 

 
Also on my plate is finishing my 50th anniversary look at the amazing COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT. It's now past the 50th but the project remains 75% done and I still hope to bring it out.

With my Mitzi Green book still on the back burner, I've agreed to write an article on her films for the magazine FILMS OF THE GOLDEN AGE. No deadline on that but I've begun rewatching all her movies. Only one is unavailable, and possibly lost--1930's SANTA FE TRAIL. I have all the rest.

My regular column, ONCE UPON A LONG AGO, debuts this summer in TwoMorrows' COMIC BOOK CREATOR, dealing with comics' past from my own personal point of view.

Meanwhile, my regular reviews continue to turn up in my FORCES OF GEEK column, BOOKSTEVE REVIEWS, as fast as I can read 'em and write 'em! Just posted was my review of Barry Windsor-Smith's masterful new graphic novel, MONSTERS. 

 
I will be returning to my roots in a way, collaborating with a well-known comics collector on a project to be announced when it has progressed a bit further.

I am contemplating a self-published collection of the best of my erotic short fiction, published online about 20 years ago, mainly as writing exercises. Some of it has been reprinted in several Canadian smut magazines through the years. Most of it has a sense of humor and my writing was often praised for both its realistic dialogue and its TV show-style banter. Nothing too kinky and always female-friendly. Most of my fans back in the day were women! Not sure the timing is right, though. Nevertheless, I've been slowly editing and occasionally rewriting a compilation I've made.

Seen at top is my current favorite project, though (NOT the final covers), a collection of the many, many bookstore anecdotes I've compiled in nearly 30 years a bookseller. Not exactly a memoir but in a way it is. I've decided my bookstore days were my school days. Grade school was when I worked at the downtown Cincinnati store and was completely green. Junior High was when I became Assistant Manager at Crestview Hills Mall. High School consisted of all the years I spent at Florence Mall, and college was when I became Manager at Crestview Hills and then Eastgate. Barnes and Noble and the Public Library represent supplemental night classes. The Airport Borders gig was my graduate school, and finally, Joseph Beth was an continuing education class.

 
 
Coming up, just this week got the assignment to research and write about the 1970s comic strip FRIDAY FOSTER for a 2022 issue of BACK ISSUE!


 
If you just can't wait that long to read my writing, I will have articles I completed last year coming up in BACK ISSUE all summer long! One is on DARK SHADOWS comic books, one is on ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, one is on BEETLE BAILEY, and one is on the DC Hotline of the 1970s! 

Also, I talked via email this morning with Roy Thomas who says the long article I wrote three years ago for ALTER EGO on Marvel science fiction adaptations of the 1970s is still coming! He's just waiting for a place to slot it in. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Dolemite Book Coming!


Did you catch Eddie Murphy's brilliant comeback recently playing pioneering black filmmaker and comic Rudy Ray Moore? If you're like me, it made you want to learn more about the real Rudy, who died little remembered in 2008. I had to settle largely for Wikipedia. Want to read the authorized Rudy Ray Moore biography? Well, you can't. Not yet anyway. As of this post, it's only halfway to its Kickstarter goal. 

I first saw the name of Rudy Ray Moore when digging through comedy album record bins in the 1970s. I never heard anything by him then, but I sure got an eyeful!

Then I saw his name in the newspapers, in the movie ads, as "Dolemite." I didn't know what a Dolemite was and even though I, a teenage lower-middle-class white kid, was catching some blaxploitation flicks downtown myself, I never caught one of his.

After the Murphy bio-movie, I sought out and watched MOST of Rudy's low-budget home-made epics. Terrible, for the most part, they were majorly entertaining in the way of Ed Wood flicks.

But I still wanted to know more. That's the way I am. So I'm being selfish here. Please consider supporting Mark Murray's Kickstarter campaign now so I can be reading "Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself" later this summer!




 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Fred Astaire IS Alister Mundy (and NOT Alistair Munday)



In the late 1960s, Fred Astaire was highly touted as joining the cast of the hit TV series IT TAKES A THIEF in its third season, playing the legendary con artist father of Robert Wagner's main character, Alexander Mundy. This was the first time in my life I had ever heard of Fred Astaire. In spite of the publicity, the greatest dancer in the history of the movies (although I didn't know that yet) only appeared in a handful of episodes.

These days, when his appearance on the series--a trivia question in terms of his overall career--is cited at all, his character's name is inevitably misspelled as "Alistair." Even on IMDB. I'm putting this here as proof that it was, in fact, "Alister," so that I'll know where it is the next time this comes up...which in my world has been surprisingly often.  

 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Booksteve Reviews: Double Cross XX

 


Back in the 1960s, there were quite a number of amateur comic books being published and sold through the mail. Some of them were surprisingly good and had artwork by folks who went on to be professionals. In the past decade or so, there has been a resurgence of small press comic books, but these days they are much more sophisticated and professionally done. Mimeographed covers and black and white insides have been replaced with computer-colored slick paper pages and the derivative fanboy tales have given way to some highly original premises and stories.

 

I’ve reviewed a number of these comics on FORCES OF GEEK and yet they remain largely under the radar.

 

Last time I checked, few if any of these new comic books are listed in Overstreet or online price guides and that’s a shame because they tend to be more original than anything from Marvel or DC has been in years. 

 

Today’s case in point is Double Cross. Double Crosscomes from Warden Comics and is written by Ludie Sexton with art by Ken Krekeler. It’s the first issue of a planned alternative history epic that postulates what might have happened had aliens made first contact in Nazi Germany at the Berlin Olympics of 1936.

 

Krekeler’s artwork is stark and violent and reminds me at times of the best work of Frank Miller or Tim Sale. His layouts are impressive and the inspired use of abstract color in splatters and splashes here—one of my favorite talking points in many recent reviews—works to create many stylish effects including the rain in the opening scene. 

 



  

Sexton’s plot has the alien Prometheus—so named by Adolf Hitler—giving powers to the winners of the various Olympic events. Thus American Jesse Owens (unnamed but clearly him) becomes a super speedster. But Hitler makes sure his athletes win overall, with the idea of making them super soldiers for his impending war. 

 

This, we find, is actually all being relayed to a therapist in modern day by our hero, an ex-German spy who was present that day and intercepted the powers meant for the final winner, after which he could not be killed. That hasn’t prevented other super-powered characters from attempting to do so over the years, though. He takes the name of Aesir.


 


  

The dialogue in Double Crossis well-written and reasonably realistic and both the writer and artist mesh nicely to create that elusive cinematic effect that comics artists always seem to strive for. The highly visual scenes such as the alien ship’s arrival, Prometheus revealing his true self, Hitler murdering the hero’s wife, and Aesir standing proudly at the end, are all straight off a movie screen.   

 

Like many first issues, Double Cross# 1 is all set up, but if the goal of such first issues is to make one want to come back for more, Sexton and Krekeler have succeeded admirably. 

 

As I said, there are a LOT of these new comic books that fly under the radar. They look almost professional these days because they really ARE professional. See if you can find them. This one found me and I’m glad it did.

 

Booksteve recommends.  

 

You can grab a copy here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wardencomics/double-cross-1?ref=project_link

 

My First Computer Game--Leather Goddesses of Phobos

  


Video games I knew. I had gotten my first Atari console way back in 1981! But outside of a few illicit rounds of playing WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT on our receiving computer at Waldenbooks (which ceased when we were informed all of our game playing was also going on the daily back up tape we had to send in) and a four year old girl Rene and I were babysitting trying to teach us LEISURE SUIT LARRY (a game she knew FAR too much about!), I had never played a computer game.

1995 found us living briefly with my mother-in-law, in my wife's old room, which had her old computer--a Commodore 64! One night, when I couldn't sleep, I got up and figured out how to turn it on. There were several game boxes nearby and I opted to try the intriguingly titled: LEATHER GODDESSES OF PHOBOS.

This was, of course, a 1980s game and most games at that time were text-based, with Dungeonmaster-style "choose your own adventure" instructions. Maybe it was my lack of sleep, but I never did figure this one out or get anywhere particularly interesting. Here, though, from the Internet, I present what the game was SUPPOSEDLY about! 


Rene kept after me to buy a more updated computer of our own but I could never figure out what we could even DO with one other than play games and by that point we had a Sega as well as my aging Atari. Later that year, though, I caved, and we bought what would be MY first ever home computer. A Digital Starion PC. It cost a small fortune and sat for some months in a disused room, just as I had expected.  

 
Then one day we came into possession of one of those briefly ubiquitous AOL disks.
And here we are today, with me on an IMac with a total of 12 TB plug-in storage.

Sometimes the '90s seem like they were just a couple years back. Other times they seem like ancient history.