Monday, December 31, 2007

A Year Passes Like Nothing...

...for the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers but also here at the Library. Seems like only yesterday we were ushering in 2007. Hell, seems like only yesterday we were starting the new millennium! The seventies only seem like a few weeks back and the sixties no more than a couple of years! Sigh...

In the New Year, I pledge to get back to regular (and more substantial) posts as soon as things ease up a bit more. In the meantime, if you happen to be off today or tomorrow, you could do worse than to kick back with this or any other issue of Gilbert Shelton's classic underground comic. Even if you yourself don't indulge, Shelton offers generally amazing cartooning and some genuine laughs.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Peter Porkchops PSA

Here's a 1950's Public Service Announcement starring future Zoo Crew member Peter Porkchops many, many years before he was reimagined as PigIron.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Badly Costumed Superhero of the Week

Wingman, seen here with his buddy and mentor, Batman, was being trained to be the Caped Crusader's European counterpart in an early fifties issue of BATMAN. Timingwise, it all occurred whilst Robin was recovering from injuries leading he--and the rest of Gotham--to presume that Wingman was intended to be Batman's new partner. For no apparent reason other than as a cruel joke on his ward, the Dark Knight perpetuated these rumors to the point of even planting stories in the newspaper gossip columns! When, in the end, Wingman does, in fact, head off to Europe (never to be heard from again, I might add), ol' Bats seems thoroughly perplexed as to why Dick could possibly have been feeling neglected and unwanted during his convalescence. Sigh. The older generation just never understands youth.

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 17

Today we have, from an old microfiche (yes, we have a huge collection of those here at the library, too. And a reader!) ACTION COMICS # 32, our old friend Clark Kent, tinkering in his laboratory(?) and coming up with the "startling invention" of the "Krypto-Raygun" (named after his dog for some reason?). As you can see, said gun snaps photos. It then develops them inside itself and then can even project them! Hmmm...Clark, ol' pal. I hate to tell you but this looks more like one of those cheesy little gimmicks you could order for only a buck in the ads in your own comic book! You know! "Hey, kids! Startling new Krypto-Ray Gun takes pictures and then shines them on your ceiling! Embarrass your parents! Scare your sister! Wake up the neighbors! Hours of mindless fun for only one dollar! Order today!"

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in the Sixties

Happy Holidays to you and yours! Today, a few visual memories of Christmas past. These are shots of myself at Christmases from 1966-1969. My first tape recorder (a reel-to-reel) is proudly displayed along with CAPTAIN LAZER and the box at least from a DR. EVIL (not the AUSTIN POWERS one) action figure. Note also the ironic airplane (ironic since I now work in an airport!). Also seen in these pics are childhood buddies Jimmyand Timmy (no relation) along with cousins Rachel, Randy (in the cowboy hat. Now my lawyer) and Rick from On My Mind in the super-cool batboots!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Lionel and Schwinn Ads-1953

During the Christmas season of 1953, Lionel Trains and Schwinn bicycles were popular gifts for good little boys. Maybe it was just the changing times but by 1963, when I might care, I never DID get either a train set or a bicycle. Was it just the changing times or was I not as good as I thought I was?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Badly Costumed Superhero of the Week

Thought I forgot, didn't you? Today's offender is THE ANGEL, the venerable MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS star who was, for all intents and purposes, a costumed rip-off of Simon Templar, THE SAINT. For much of his run, he didn't have any powers and when he did they were inconsistent. He was just a mustachioed do-gooder who tended to dress funny...and, as seen here, ride a bike. (To be fair, the bike was a one-time only deal in a chase sequence. It was also too good a panel to pass up.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

The 1972 Comic Art Fan Awards Results

In early 1973, comics fandom pioneers Don and Maggie Thompson officiated (by mail) the Comic Art Fan Awards for the proceeding year. Once the results were tallied, they could be yours (by mail) for one thin dime OR an SASE. There's a term you don't hear too often anymore in these days of email, IMs, texts and other high-tech communication. SASE stood for "Self Addressed Stamped Envelope" and an awful lot of early fan activity was done with them.
Ever thorough about these things, the Beautiful Balloons team of Don and Maggie break down the voting as to where the most ballots originated (they were printed in various fanzines) and the birth years of the voters. They even make an admittedly unscientific effort at determining what percentage of each sex voted.
As to the winners, it's interesting to note that CONAN THE BARBARIAN swept all categories in which it was nominated. Barry Smith rode CONAN to a mjor victory over Adams, Kirby and that hot young upstart, Berni Wrightson as Favorite Pro Artist. Roy Thomas followed suit. Note that Kirby was nominated as Best Pro Writer also in spite of the fact that even then his dialogue grated on many of us. Such was the power of Kirby's Koncepts!

Thomas only had to beat DC's Julie Schwartz for Pro Editor. Apparently no one else was even favored enough to get nominated! I believe that was the year Stan stepped up to Publisher.
CONAN beat the spanking new SWAMP THING as best Comic Book. Also Kubert's TARZAN and a really hot AVENGERS run! I think I would've (and probably did) voted for AVENGERS.
Favorite Non-Nesstand Comic Book covered undergrounds and reprint zines. The winner, the late, lamented MENOMONEE FALLS GAZETTE was a weekly newspaper that reprinted daily and some Sunday adventure comic strips from around the world and through the years. Every issue offered a week of the likes of MODESTY BLAISE, RED RYDER, JEFF HAWKE, BATMAN, STEVE ROPER, and STEVE CANYON. It beat out Wrightson's fan collection BADTIME STORIES, the ultra-slick "pro-zine" PHASE and an odd assortment of undergrounds.

CONAN # 20 beat out the final O'Neil/Adams GL/GA as well as Kirby's seminal "The Pact" issue of NEW GODS from which so much story material has been derived since. The first SWAMP THING was also (sorry Mike Sterling) an also-ran.
THE COMIC READER, still in it's TV GUIDE phase at that time, easily beat the tabloid TBG as well as Marty Griem's traditional fanzine COMIC CRUSADER, James Van Hise's version of the venerable RBCC, Steranko's COMIXSCENE and GRAPHIC STORY WORLD, the very first fanzine I ever saw!
Favorite fan artist was Rich Corben. I don't know. I think I'd have considered him a pro by that point. Don Newton, just about to turn pro, was second. Marty Griem and John (Fandoms') Fantucchio, always a favorite of mine, tied!

Don and Maggie themselves took Favorite Fan Writer(s) with Tom Fagan--he of the Rutland Halloween parades--a close second. Prolific fan writer Jan Strnad made the list as did future DC president Paul Levitz and "Sweet Tony Isabella" whom it was announced would take over the awards the following year due to ballot-stuffing having disenchanted the Thompsons.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Another Charlie Brown Christmas

There are probably hundreds of PEANUTS Christmas cards that were done over the years and while I'm certain I've bever seen them all, this one is a favorite. Recieved in 2004, we see Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Lucy, Franklin and Charlie Brown building a rather traditional snowman while Sally, Linus and Woodstock are working on tiny snow reindeer. Snoopy seems to be the official photographer. Perhaps there's a contest? Anyway, colorful and delightful, this is a wonderful scene. For most of my life, it just wouldn't be Christmas without Schulz!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Waldenbooks Santa Flyer

In the spirit of the season, here's a bit of my own illustrative work on a flyer for my bookstore dated--I believe--1986 and scanned from the original art. We got back enough colored ones that we literally wallpapered any and every open space at the store with them that year! Feel free to print, color and rescan your own version and we may run the best ones here this year!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks # 33

"See stewardesses battle king-fu killers!" screamed the radio ads for this 1973 low budget, hign concept sexploitation picture. It was a drive-in movie at a time when I had no source for drive-in movies so I actually did NOT see stewardesses battle kung-fu killers. Based on the fact that IMDB says virtually nothing about this film other than its credits, I'd say it looks like very few people DID see it. The actresses went on to TV character roles. The writer, one Miller Drake, apparently switched horses and became a visual effects editor, working in recent years on such blockbusters as MEN IN BLACK II, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM. Perhaps even more interestingly, he's credited as "first mutant" in the delightfully bad HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD. Cirio Santiago, credited as director, was a Filipino filmmaker who had worked extensively for Roger Corman and has continued to churn out low-budget action films ever since as a producer and/or director.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cincinnati Television by Jim Friedman

Back in the forties and fifties, when television was young, a considerable amount of it was local. In Cincinnati, perhaps more than in most major cities, it remained that way until the mid-1980’s! Now comes author Jim Friedman with a long-overdue picture-packed tribute overflowing with history, nostalgia and an endless parade of names and faces familiar to baby boomers who grew up in the mid-west.

Back in the day, local celebrities came not just from local news programs but from local game shows, local kids shows, local cooking shows, talk shows, variety shows and movie shows. While a number of Cincy celebs made it big nationally (including Rod Serling and Soupy Sales), others spread their influence from right here at home. Ruth Lyons, for example, practically invented the modern talk-show format while zany Paul Dixon is often cited as a clear influence on our Indiana neighbor David Letterman. Legendary anchorman Al Schottelkotte inspired local resident Ted Turner’s initial take on CNN and pantomimist Dotty Mack often claimed to have invented the format later popularized by MTV.

Nick Clooney and Bob Braun were both talented singers, talk show hosts and pitchmen who started out with Ruth Lyons. The late Braun appears in a cameo as a newsman in DIE HARD 2. Braun’s son is now a respected Cincinnati anchorman. Clooney’s son has been named (as you may have heard) the sexiest man alive…twice! Many local residents—my wife included—say Nick still deserves that title himself!

Uncle Al and Captain Windy began a long-running children’s program in the early fifties and were still successful when the show finally went off the air in 1985! Within the last ten years, there were even reruns shown that were still more entertaining than most modern shows for little kids. Uncle Al’s closest rival was Skipper Ryle whose own show survived several format changes to last nearly two decades.

One of my personal favorites growing up was Larry Smith. Puppet shows used to be big on television believe it or not and Larry Smith and his puppets held court on several shows and channels from the late fifties through the mid-seventies (with a short-lived all-new revival within the past decade).

Author Friedman’s book, CINCINNATI TELEVISION, is part of the Arcadia series of regional titles and thus is limited to their standardized format of mostly captioned pictures. He has done a splendid job, however, of finding important pictures and, rather than just identifying them, giving anecdotes along the way.

This afternoon, I attended a signing for the book at a nearby Borders store. The book itself was sold out even prior to the signing but the event went on with folks getting flyers signed that can be inserted into the books later. Friedman had made the afternoon truly an event by inviting a number of the folks in the book to attend. Those present at the event included local singers Nancy James and Dave MaCoy (for my money the best of all the local singers), Bill Myers (who hosted SCREEN TEST, the game show on which I appeared in the early eighties), Rosemary Kelly, Walt Maher, Michael Flannery and best of all…Larry Smith and his Puppets. I had met Larry over the years as a sometime customer at my store but as is my custom with celebs when they aren’t working, I just let him shop without fawning. Today, Larry was working the crowd with his two most famous puppets, Hattie the Witch (Battie Hattie from Cincinnati) and Snarfy R. Dog. I got him to sign the back of the postcard seen above showing him with his friends in 1968.

Although the format keeps CINCINNATI TELEVISION from being the comprehensive history that’s deserved, it is a well-done, entertaining and educational book that will delight local folks and inform everyone else just how much influence Cincy television had on what we find on our cable boxes today. Jim, I hope you’re already working on Volume 2.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Into the Inkwell

From roughly the same period as yesterday's Sheaffer ad, here's an ad for SKRIP ink from the same company.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fineline Pens

Here's an ad from the mid-fifties for Sheaffer Fineline inkpens. Having been born at the tail end of the fifties, we had ballpoint pens by the time I started using them so I never needed to master the intricacies of one of these old-style pens. My mother had a few and they always fascinated me because I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get them to work! We still had inkwells by the time I got to school but no ink--nothing to dip the pigtails of the girl sitting in front of you into! Nice cartoony art in this ad. Anybody have an idea who drew it?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 16

The METAL MEN were a truly unique set of characters with unique (if repetitive) storylines and consistently solid art from the Andru/Esposito team (and later Gil Kane). Then Mike Sekowsky "humanized" them in what is now recognized as a WTF moment. Every shred of what made this book interesting was simply trashed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Facebook and Me

We here at the Library pride ourselves on embracing new technologies. In fact, even as we write this, we have an 8 Track player and two Beta VCRs onsite! And oh, how we love our Atari!

That said, yesterday your humble host, bowing to pressure from various directions, took the plunge onto…FACEBOOK! I’d like to thank Howard Cruse(Loose Cruse: The Blog )for becoming my very first FACEBOOK friend! Above is a nifty piece combining Cruse’s BAREFOOTZ and WENDEL characters. This was published as the cover of a 1989 San Diego Con update newsletter. (That was the year I paid for it but then didn’t get to go. Much like this year’s situation at Mid-Ohio Con.)
So far, I’m having fun looking up everyone I’ve ever met and checking THEIR friends out. Batton Lash( Supernatural Law), Fred Hembeck and Tony Isabella (Tony's Message Board - Message Index)--friends of the Library every one-- have kindly joined my list along with various relatives and co-workers and I’ve apparently joined a Don Rosa Fan Club based in Cairo, Egypt! If you’re a regular here and you’re on FACEBOOK, look me up there and let me know. You’re all friends to me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Badly Costumed Super Hero of the Week

This guy is Blue Circle, apparently named after the little buttons holding on his rather thick looking cape. Other than a blue hood and riding boots, that appears to BE his costume. The button-down shirt and ordinary pants round out the ensemble. Note also no gloves so he's leaving fingerprints everywhere he goes! Way to protect that secret identity, bud! Still, he was apparently popular enough to have his own comic book!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Groucho Bio From DC Comics-1953

Here's a nearly two page, mostly text bio of the one, the only Groucho Marx from a mid-1953 issue of DC's DEAN MARTIN AND JERRY LEWIS!
Can't tell who did the art on Groucho's face but it's a fairly good approximation of his mid-fifties TV look.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hangman Ad

Still having very little time and lots of confusing computer issues but hey, here's a cool ad for MLJ's HANGMAN series from the early forties! This controversial, violent series appeared in PEP and later in HANGMAN COMICS. In the sixties, when Archie Comics (the former MLJ) revived their forties heroes, they chose to use this darker character as a villain! Archie's much later Red Circle re-revival attempted to give some closure to the Hangman and,at the same time, pass on the mantle to his son.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


In the mid-sixties, Marvel's modestly titled FANTASY MASTERPIECES reprinted their pre-hero monster stories such as FIN FANG FOOM. Later on, golden-age hero stories were added featuring CAPTAIN AMERICA and later the HUMAN TORCH, SUB-MARINER and even some also-rans such as BLACK MARVEL and Kirby's MERCURY. Eventually, all-new stories were added such as DOCTOR DOOM's first solo outing, Herb Trimpe's PHANTOM EAGLE, THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and the Kree CAPTAIN MARVEL. Then one issue ended with a one page preview of STARHAWK! All we got was a quick character shot of a guy in a cool costume and the usual Marvel hype. Fans were excited though and thus highly disappointed the following month when the new issue presented all super hero reprints. Even worse, the reprints apparently sold better so the by now retitled MARVEL SUPER HEROES continued with those from that point, leaving us thinking we'd only imagined STARHAWK.

Eventually what there was of STARHAWK slipped out and consisted of precisely one Dan Adkins cover (which appeared on an issue of MARVELMANIA) and a handful of completed story pages (in a different issue of MARVELMANIA) and finally the picture seen here which appeared on an early seventies TBG cover. The figure here seems to be the same Dan Adkins art (looking like a John Buscema pose) but with an entirely different background. The whole story--such as it is--of STARHAWK has already been told here: Starhawk (ad character, Marvel Super-Heroes). Roy Thomas's improbable explanation was that the series was going in the wrong direction and thus it was decided to pull it until such time as it could be better thought out. Looking at some of Marvel's seventies series that DID get out marks this as unlikely to be the whole truth. The fact that when STARHAWK finally did appear (with a revived GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY), the only thing he had in common with this guy was his name ("Take it from one who knows!") led to this version almost literally falling through the cracks. For the House of Ideas, apparently it was decided that this was a bad one. Too bad. Cool costume!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tootsie Roll Ad

Here we have a mid-fifties Tootsie Roll ad and like many before it, it features CAPTAIN TOOTSIE. By this time, however, we were past the point of the wonderfully drawn comic strip ads by CAPTAIN MARVEL writers and artists. In fact, here we're left with simply a badly drawn head shot. The candy kept on rolling but Tootsie himself was retired soon afterwards.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 15

Does DATELINE NBC know about this? MAUREEN MARINE was an early forties strip in which this little girl drowns...or would have if old King Neptune hadn't saved her and "fixed" her so she could breathe underwater. It seems that his undersea queen is dying and he's in the market for a new one...and Maureen has been chosen! So basically this old dude keeps this little girl from returning home so he can make her his "queen." Yeah right! Chris Hanson?

Friday, November 30, 2007

My Lost Chipmunks Article-1989

THE CHIPMUNK SONG was the # 1 record in the US on the day I was born in January of 1959. It had been released just prior to the holiday in the just ended year and become more a phenomenon than a hit. Eventually Alvin and his cartoon crew would enjoy fame in records, television, toy merchandising and even now a brand-new, long anticipated/dreaded CGI feature film with Jason Lee as David Seville.
Here, however, reproduced from the original typewritten pages, is a 1989 aricle I pitched to the local newspapers during the holiday season. The one reply I got questioned why it might be considered newsworthy and added that even if it was, they have their own staff writers to write these filler pieces. Sigh. The article itself was actually excerpted ( at least in part) from the longer piece on Ross Bagdasarian I had written for my legendarily unfinished and unpublished book, CARTOON CHARACTER ACTORS-THE MEN AND WOMEN BEHIND YOUR FAVORITE ANIMATED STARS.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Jack Benny and George Burns Reminisce-1974

Here's an interesting Bob Thomas article/interview from not long before Jack became ill. If I recall correctly, this clipping came from TBG's BEAUTIFUL BALLOONS column. That title, by the way, is carried on by its co-founder even today at Beautiful Balloons with Maggie Thompson. If you're a Jack Benny fan, click on the newly added Bear Manor Media link to the right to order the new Benny book, WELL! REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE AND CAREER OF JACK BENNY (featuring myself and a bunch of other excellent writers).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Badly Costumed Superhero of the Week

This badly costumed superhero from the UK in 1949 was not only equally badly named but appeared in a badly named comic book, too! RAY SPEDE-THE ROCKET MAN appears here in BOB COMIC BOOK looking like nothing less than a composite version of Marvel's RED RAVEN ( the sixties revival version) and DC's infamous B'WANA BEAST!

Rare Linda Blair Poster

Although it opened in late 1973, I didn't even see THE EXORCIST until well into 1974. By that time, however, I was already enamored of its star and tried to catch her every television interview. There's nothing like a teenage geek when it comes to obsessing. I would haunt the mag stands for everything from SEVENTEEN to PARIS MATCH if it had Linda on the cover. I even joined her supposedly official fan club and seen here is the free poster you got for joining. In fact, it was the ONLY thing I ever got for joining! While the front offers a nice, wholesome, little-seen image of the then-fourteen year old actress (my age at the time, also!), the back is a silly mish-mash of a few badly cropped stills from THE EXORCIST and a bunch of apparently random images, mostly from older, unrelated horror films! In retrospect, I'm thinking the "official" club--which I think I contacted through an ad in RONA BARRETT'S HOLLYWOOD--probably wasn't!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

1988 Dick Tracy Calendar Ad

The other day I saw volume two of THE COMPLETE DICK TRACY in a store and was reminded that, strangely enough, the 1980's were a golden age for DICK TRACY fans! This was due, in large part, to San Diego Con founder Shel Dorf who edited Blackthorne's DICK TRACY reprint comics. My dad had been a huge Tracy fan since the 1930's and he devoured these during the eighties in all of their various formats! Blackthorne had risen from the ashes of Pacific Comics, one of the first major independent comics companies. In their new incarnation, their product was sadly not always of the best quality. They did, however, offer a number of classic newspaper strip reprints at a time when few companies were doing so. Mr. Dorf oversaw the Tracys and they were not complete but edited so as to eliminate the repetitive panels that often filled daily story/adventure strips. The completist in me hated that aspect but at the same time, it was smartly done to make the stories much more readable. And what garish stories they were! EC had nothing on Chester Gould at his peak! Toward the end of the decade, with books coming out on the strip and other companies reprinting different eras, the venerable strip (still being written by Max Collins and drawn by Dick Locher at that point) had reached a surprising new peak in popularity. Dorf began making plans for a new Dick Tracy fan club and invited folks to write and be put on a mailing list for when it finally appeared. Then one day, this ad arrived instead. The club had to be put on hold (did it ever surface?) due to Warren Beatty's then still to be made feature film. Instead, though, we were offered this nifty looking 1988 calendar! For some reason, I never got one but even now, as we approach calendar-buying season again twenty years later, I WANT ONE!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Real "Western" Sets

Now this ad from, I believe, the early fifties is interesting for any number of reasons. First of all, what's with all the quotation marks? Second--dig the almost Freudian ad copy used to sell the Repeating Rifle: "It's big, it's powerful, it's like real!" and "...feel the thrill as the 'jet balls' come poppin' out of the shiny aluminum muzzle." "Jet balls." Uhhhh-huh.
What really makes me wonder though is why we have Gene Autry this, Gene Autry that and Dale Evans this and that. Somebody's conspicuous in their absence. Hmmm...Did Roy know about this or did Gene and Dale have this little get-rich quick scheme going on the side?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Marvel Presents the Rolling Stones!

In 1977 Marvel Comics gave us the notorious blood and ink KISS comic magazine. In 1978, Marvel offered a colorful but rather simplified BEATLES bio-comic mag. Did you know, however, that in 1979 Marvel was going to offer a similar SUPER-SPECIAL history of THE ROLLING STONES? To the best of my knowledge it never appeared in either the US or foreign markets. To be drawn (or lightboxed from the look of it) by Tom Yeates (who went on to, amongst other things, an unjustly forgotten run on the pre-Alan Moore SWAMP THING), the announcement and this art appeared in the mid-1979 issue of Jim Steranko's MEDIASCENE tabloid. The brief mention of the upcoming book indicated that former Kubert school student Yeates had originally been signed for a 12 page back-up but that his art was so good he was given the whole book.

The announcement of the Stones comic is followed by an announcement that Marvel was planning something even bigger the following year--developing--in conjunction with Casablanca records-- a REAL rock group that would actually be on the charts and appearing in the comics at the same time. This project eventually coalesced into not a GROUP but...THE DAZZLER! To quote Wikipedia's entry on that character: Dazzler was originally developed as a cross-promotional, multi-media creation between Casablanca Records, Filmworks, and Marvel Comics until the tie-ins were dropped in 1980.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fearless Fosdick Ad

Well, even after I got my car fixed and back and everything else cleared up, I came down with a fever and flu-like symptoms last night and had to cancel my long-awaited trip to Mid-Ohio Con. Sigh. "Best laid plans" and all that. Anyway, as I've been vegging out here at home today, I found Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin talking about Al Capp's always over the top DICK TRACY parody FEARLESS FOSDICK. Between naps, I thought I'd share a mid-fifties ad for Wildroot Cream Oil featuring Ol'Fearless.