Thursday, April 30, 2009

Free Comic Book Day is less than 2 days away! (YAY!)

Before I forget to remind everyone, this Saturday is "Free Comic Book Day". Free Comic Book Day is a single day - the first Saturday in May - when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE to anyone who comes into their stores.

This popular event allows the participating sponsors to introduce their characters to a greater audience, and hopefully to encourage a new generation of fans to join the rest of us geeks in the four color world.

It is particularly gratifying to see that so many of the titles offered on FCBD, fall within the all-ages arena, not that there isn't something for everybody - there is - but the younger you can grab 'em, the longer they'll hang on. At least that's the idea!

Bring your family, bring your friends, bring a stranger to the local comic store this weekend and grab some cool swag. Many shops build an entire event around this annual day, with guest artists, special sales and other goodies.

I'll see you there!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Seduction of the Innocent and the Comics code Authority (Part IV)

Bill Gaines' testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954 achieved notoriety for his unapologetic, matter-of-fact tone, and Gaines became a boogeyman for those wishing to censor comic books. After Gaines was negatively depicted by the national media as America's foremost amoral publisher, by 1955, EC Comics was effectively driven out of business by the backlash, and by the Comics Magazine Association of America, the very group that Gaines himself had suggested to insulate themselves from outside censorship, but he lost control of the organization to John Goldwater, publisher of the innocuous Archie Comics. The Comics Code that was approved and adopted by most of the country's prominent publishers contained restrictions specifically targeted at Gaines' line of horror and crime comic books. Although he had already ceased publishing his line of horror comics, Gaines refused to subscribe to the code, considering it in many details to be hypocritical, and not applicable to the new, clean line of realistic comics he was at the time promoting. This refusal, together with his already tarnished reputation, put EC on the verge of bankruptcy. Although Gaines soon relented and accepted the code, distributors refused to pass his titles along to newsstands. The damage was done, and Gaines abandoned comic books completely. He chose to concentrate his business on EC's only profitable title, Mad, which had recently changed format. After distributor Leader News went bankrupt in 1956, EC was left with over $100,000 in unrecoverable debt. Gaines invested a considerable portion of his own personal fortune to keep the company alive until a deal could be made with a new distributor.

The last surviving title from the critically acclaimed EC Comics line, Mad magazine offered satire on all aspects of American life and pop culture, politics, entertainment, and public figures. Its format was divided into a number of recurring segments such as TV and movie parodies, as well as freeform articles. Mad's mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, is usually the focal point of the magazine's cover, with his face often replacing a celebrity or character that is lampooned within the issue.

Gaines converted Mad to a magazine format in 1956 in order to retain the services of its talented, but eclectic editor Harvey Kurtzman, who'd been receiving offers from elsewhere. Although the change enabled Mad to escape the strictures of the Comics Code, Kurtzman would leave Gaines' employ a year later anyway, but Gaines went on to a long and profitable career as a publisher of satire and enemy of bombast. Mad became a cultural phenomenon!

Although Mad was sold for tax reasons in the early 1960s, Gaines remained as publisher until the day he died and served as a buffer between the magazine and its corporate interests. In turn, he largely stayed out of the magazine's production, often viewing content just before the issue was scheduled to be shipped to the printer. "My staff and contributors create the magazine," declared Gaines. "What I create is the atmosphere." He was well regarded by his staff members for his grand sense of humor, loyalty and generosity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Heroes, 3rd Season finale; "An Invisible Thread" (04/27/2009)

Everybody knows what the TV term "jumping the shark" means....right? This is the point in a TV show or movie series' history where the plot veers off into absurd story lines or out-of-the-ordinary characterizations. This usually corresponds to the point where a show with falling ratings apparently becomes more desperate to draw viewers in. In the process of undergoing these changes, the TV or movie series loses its original appeal. Shows that have "jumped the shark" are typically deemed to have passed their peak.

During the 1970's, the TV series, Happy Days had prominent character, Arthur Fonzarelli (aka the "Fonz") ACTUALLY jumping over a penned up shark, while the shows characters were vacationing in California. Of course, the Fonz was doing such a ridiculous thing in response to a dare, but alas, a catchphrase was coined, despite the lameness of the original episode that spawned it.

This season has seen more reversals, misbegotten scenarios, and extraneous characters than the previous two seasons combined. They might as well have named this series, The Many Deaths of Nathan Petrelli. And what pray tell, does Claire actually contribute to this storyline anyway? She is cute mind you, but the cheerleader whose salvation was supposed to have saved the world, really hasn't amounted to much of anything. I know the shows writers have long since forgotten this, but Claire's invincible blood would have revived her biological father just fine last night. Don't believe me? Just ask H.R.G.! He took a bullet right through his horned rim glasses, through his eyeball and into his brain last year, and a handy bit of invincible blood had him quickly hopping off the slab in the company morgue pronto. If you want to have Claire continue to hang around just for purposes of eye candy, and nothing else, then have her wear string bikinis and cutesy-pie lingerie. At least then I would understand.

I won't miss Nathan much, since his earlier actions had in effect turned him into more of a villain, than a hero. Too bad they didn't dispense with that idiotic Dr. Suresh at the same time and for the same reasons.

There was one really, really good moment during the finale and that occurred when Sylar had the tables turned on him by Peter Petrelli in the Presidential limo. It's moments like that that give me some entertainment as a viewer, but as the overall competency of this wayward series has continued to degrade, even stuff like this hasn't led me to expect much going into the summer break.

The NBC network executives are in all likelyhood, partially to blame for how badly this show has skewed. Creator Tim Kring obviously didn't have much of a road map to start with, and we have too many aborted plot lines, and too many randomly introduced and rapidly forgotten quest star characters to believe anything else anyway. The originally stated intention of having an evolving cast as the series moved on, was what went wrong here, boys. Sylar just ain't all that! The conceit of hanging onto Zachary Quinto, reminds me of the time when NBC held actor Pierce Brosnan to another year of the faltering series, Remington Steele, just because Brosnan had the inside track to become the next James Bond. Timothy Dalton got the gig instead, but Brosnan eventually got his turn anyway. And there's nothing like having the "new" Mr. Spock in the house, is there? Even when his character has overstayed his welcome.

Before season 4 begins filming, I would encourage somebody at the top of the executive food chain to demote Kring to a tertiary position, and let Bryan Fuller either assume full show runner status or simply let the man who helmed Pushing Daisies, hire his own all-new writing staff or have final say on scripts for next year.

Kudos for bring back Ali Larter, guys never waste a fine looker like her again. A bonus with her Tracy Strauss character is that she is more interesting than the earlier identify of Nikki-Jessica. Um, don't hesitate to put her in bikinis and lingerie, too.

I hope season 4 measures up upon its return - sooner rather than later - because unless it does, I don't think even a cool moment or two is gonna hold my interest further. While we're at it, the Sarah Connor Chronicles is getting axed over on Fox, so Summer Glau is probably going to be available and she has serious genre chops to offer, plus all blonds, all the time, is not the way to go. Trust me!

Rayboy's Review: Batman Confidential #26-28 (DC Comics)

I was unfamiliar with the names of Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir before I read their excellent three part “Riddle of the Sphinx” story in the DC Comics series, Batman Confidential (issue #’s 26-28) and I must say; I was impressed.

With all of the “Battle for the Cowl” shit going on in most of the other Batman titles, this excellent introduction to a fine pair of comic book writers was just what the doctor ordered for yours truly. I had noticed another blogger commenting favorably on this story arc and just had to see for myself, and while admittedly, I was drawn to the promised artwork of longtime DC veteran Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on the Dark Knight again, I didn’t realize going in that the esteemed Kevin Nowlan was providing the inks on these issues. The combination of Garcia-Lopez and Nowlan makes this Batman story a true thing of beauty. It’s like the Caped Crusader stepped right out of a lost 1970’s Detective Comics issue, because at least for this creative pairing of talented writers and artists, the focus was simply on a cracking good adventure tale, which prominently features established Batman foe, The Riddler, and at the same time, introduces us to an entirely new villain of note (based on a campy bad guy from the old 1960’s Batman television series), King Tut.

People, this, THIS, is what DC Comics should be doing with Batman….every month. Not the “Battle of the Cowl” pabulum. The last of the three issues by DeFilippis, Weir, Garcia-Lopez & Nowlan is on the stands, and I encourage everyone that likes Batman to rush out and buy these issues…immediately. Distance yourselves from “Battle of the Cowl” with equal haste!

There is a bit of hope at the end of the three-part story, an implied cliffhanger which suggests that a return of Tut might be in the offing. If so, and “if”, DC can bring this creative team back for another round, I would be glad to add Batman Confidential to my pull list.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Seduction of the Innocent and the Comics Code Authority (Part III)

Some of the selected provisions of the Code are as follows:

· Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
· If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
· Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.
· In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
· Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
· No comic magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title.
· All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
· All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
· Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly, nor so as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.
· Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.
· Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
· Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.
· Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
· Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.
· Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
· Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.
· Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden. Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product; clothed figures shall never be presented in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.

Many of the early comic book publishers had already folded by the mid-1950's or had moved on to such lighter fare as westerns, romance and funny animals. Superheroes were still around, primarily Superman, Batman and a handful of others, but tastes had largely shifted away from the long underwear crowd. However, EC Comics was getting lots of attention with their sci-fi, horror and mature fantasy titles, but as you can gather by looking at some of the Code's strictures above, the noose was beginning to tighten .

The conclusion of my look back at this period will be posted soon!

"Gal" Friday! Jaime Koeppe

Jaime Koeppe is a 30 year old Canadian professional fitness expert, and the first winner of the WWE Diva Search in the summer of 2003. Koeppe was the Miss Bartercard Molson Indy Canada 2002, as well as a former member of the BC Felions dance team and a face of Femsport.

The WWE Diva Search competition was a live Internet contest, but there was no contract involved. However, she did receive a photo shoot in the November 2003 edition of WWE Raw Magazine as well as extra publicity, which helped jump start her modeling career.

She has supposedly retired to focus on her personal life. I doubt that she factored me into that equation, but I heartily volunteer for the assignment. Her measurements are listed as 35-24-40 and she is 5 ft 5 inches tall , with brown hair and eyes. Now that is how you spell heaven!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Seduction of the Innocent and the Comics Code Authority (Part II)

Beginning in the late 1940s, the comic book industry became the target of mounting public criticism for the content of comic books and their potentially harmful effects on children. The problem really came to a head in 1948 with the publication by Dr. Fredric Wertham of two articles: "Horror in the Nursery" (in Collier's Magazine) and "The Psychopathology of Comic Books" (in the American Journal of Psychotherapy). As a result, an industry trade group, the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers, was formed in 1948, but this endeavor proved to be ineffective. Bill Gaines took EC Comics and left the association in 1950 after he had an argument with its executive director, Henry Schultz. By 1954 only three comic book publishers remained as members, and even Schultz admitted that the ACMP seals placed on comics were meaningless.

The 1954 publication of Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent and a highly publicized Congressional hearing on juvenile delinquency cast comic books in an especially poor light. At the same time, a major federal investigation led to a shakeup within the distribution companies that delivered comic books and pulp magazines across America. Sales plummeted, and several companies went out of business. Comics were routinely rounded up by citizens groups and cast into bonfires, both public and private, as the backlash spread across the nation.

While several publishers tried to forestall the damage, it was largely Gaines whose defiant stance against censorship led to the cancellation of the bulk of the EC line of titles and his ultimate creation of the greatest expression of antidisestablishmentarianism ever seen in comics.

We will move on to some of the specific code previsions tomorrow, but first take a look at the CCA's actual Preamble and see if you can see how the "writing on the wall" was foreshadowed in the document (and then hustle on back here on Friday for Part III).

"The comic-book medium, having come of age on the American cultural scene, must measure up to its responsibilities.

Constantly improving techniques and higher standards go hand in hand with these responsibilities.

To make a positive contribution to contemporary life, the industry must seek new areas for developing sound, wholesome entertainment. The people responsible for writing, drawing, printing, publishing, and selling comic books have done a commendable job in the past, and have been striving toward this goal.

Their record of progress and continuing improvement compares favorably with other media in the communications industry. An outstanding example is the development of comic books as a unique and effective tool for instruction and education. Comic books have also made their contribution in the field of letters and criticism of contemporary life.

In keeping with the American tradition, the members of this industry will and must continue to work together in the future.

In the same tradition, members of the industry must see to it that gains made in this medium are not lost and that violations of standards of good taste, which might tend toward corruption of the comic book as an instructive and wholesome form of entertainment, will be eliminated.

Therefore, the Comics Magazine Association of America, Inc. has adopted this code, and placed strong powers of enforcement in the hands of an independent code authority.

Further, members of the association have endorsed the purpose and spirit of this code as a vital instrument to the growth of the industry.

To this end, they have pledged themselves to conscientiously adhere to its principles and to abide by all decisions based on the code made by the administrator.

They are confident that this positive and forthright statement will provide an effective bulwark for the protection and enhancement of the American reading public, and that it will become a landmark in the history of self-regulation for the entire communications industry."
(Above;top: EC Comics publisher William Gaines and artist Al Feldstein).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seduction of the Innocent and the Comics Code Authority (Part I)

Billion dollar bailouts, CEO's feasting at the public teat, plunging confidence in the American government (and it's ego-tripping-everything-that I-do-or-say-IS-the-law politicians), faux-celebrities emerging from ridiculous "reality' television shows, teetering economies, diminishing civil liberties, wars and rumors of wars; It's the end of the world as we know it, folks!

Now what does any of that have to do with comic books? Maybe nothing, maybe everything. Sales continue to slide across the board for mainstream publishers, even as comic book properties themselves become an increasingly large part of media entertainment of all types. Inhouse, marketing has trumped characterization, and forget continuity - no fan can pick up a single title that contains their favorite hero, because the "big two" (that's Marvel & DC), have spread their heroes across so many multiple series; that it's just too damn difficult to fathom, much less keep up with (us old-schoolers didn't have this kind of trouble keeping up with multiple Earths way back when) and besides, the dueling company's are just going to reboot everything all over again when the season changes. Why worry? It's just comic books. Right?

Well, there was a time when the people of America were snookered into thinking that simple little "funny books" were going to lead to the rapid collapse of Western Civilization, so maybe we should take a sobering look back at the McCarthy Era; those nostalgic days of the Cold War and the lynching of that era's designated fall guy, otherwise known as EC Comics.

The Comics Code Authority was created in 1954 as part of the CMAA (Comics Magazine Association of America) in response to public concern over what was deemed inappropriate material in many comic books. This included graphic depictions of violence and gore in crime and horror comics, as well as the sexual innuendo of what aficionados refer to as "good girl" art. Dr. Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent rallied opposition to this type of material in comics, arguing that it was harmful to the children who made up a large segment of the comic book audience. The Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings in 1954, which focused specifically on comic books, had many publishers concerned about enforced government regulation, prompting them to form their own self-regulatory body instead.

The CCA code was based upon the largely unenforced code drafted by the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers in 1948, which in turn was modeled loosely after the 1930 Hollywood Production Code (the Hays Code). However, the CCA imposed many more restrictions than its like-minded predecessor.

Like the previous code, the CCA prohibited the presentation of "policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions ... in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority." But it added the requirements that "in every instance good shall triumph over evil" and discouraged "instances of law enforcement officers dying as a result of a criminal's activities." Specific restrictions were placed on the portrayal of kidnapping and concealed weapons.

Depictions of "excessive violence" were forbidden, as were "lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations." Vampires, werewolves, ghouls and zombies could not be portrayed. In addition, comics could not use the words "horror" or "terror" in their titles. The use of the word "crime" was subject to numerous restrictions.

Where the previous code had condemned the publication of "sexy, wanton comics," the CCA was much more precise: depictions of "sex perversion", "sexual abnormalities", and "illicit sex relations" as well as seduction, rape, sadism, and masochism were specifically forbidden. In words echoing the Hollywood Production Code, love stories were enjoined to emphasize the "sanctity of marriage" and those portraying scenes of passion were advised to avoid stimulating "lower and baser emotions."

Advertisements for liquor, tobacco, knives, fireworks, nude pin-ups, postcards, and "toiletry products of questionable nature" were all prohibited.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at specific parts of the Code and see just how far we've come since the 1950's. See you then!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Chat with James Ritchey, Writer/Artist of AC Comics Green Lama, Man of Strength

Although I am a child of the silver age, I am still a big fan of original golden age super-heroes and pulp-era characters, particularly those that were published by Better/Standard/Nedor.

In the Catacombs, during the month of March 2009, I ran an "Atomic Month" series of comics and other similarly themed features just for kicks. After my inhouse mini-event ended, I was contacted by writer/artist James Ritchey. It seems that I had inadvertently used an illustration of the golden age hero Atomic Thunderbolt, that Jim had drawn, as a "From the Dust Bin" post. After he politely set me straight, we had a few additional correspondences and Jim has now kindly consented to allow me to profile his "golden age-inspired" project from AC Comics:

Green Lama, Man of Strength #2 is written and penciled by James Ritchey, inked by Jeff Austin and Mark Stegbauer. The book is intended for all-ages fans of thoughtful, character-driven modern style super-heroics or golden age character revivals. It is a standard size comic book, 40 pages, black & white with color covers; retailing for $7.95 from AC Comics. The shipping date will be June 18, 2009. Synopsis: "REVELATIONS". Jethro Dumont remembers his previous incarnations as THE GREEN LAMA, in hidden Shambhala, in the Himalayas. Regaining his powers, he returns to civilization to defeat his ancient enemy, STOPWACH, and a brainwashed ATOMAN--all to restore the soul of his beloved Madeleine to her body- and to literally save humanity!!

Question: Jim, I love the old Nedor heroes like Black Terror, Doc Strange, Fighting Yank and Pyroman, since AC Comics uses them occasionally, what are your feelings on those golden oldies?

Jim Ritchey: I worship Mort Meskin, Alex Schomburg and Jerry Robinson as gods, so yer
preachin' to the choir! Mort's inks over Jerry Robinson [on Black Terror & Fighting Yank] inspired Steve Ditko's style to the point where he should pay both Jerry, and Mort's family royalties!

Question: Considering the apparent "availability" of those golden age heroes that are within the public domain, and after seeing several publishers jumping on that bandwagon over the last year (or so), do you have any opinion on some of that work, say like Dynamite’s Project: Superpowers [which the Catacombs particularly loathes]?

Jim Ritchey: I've read three issues of Superpowers, and as big a heretic towards established orders and traditions as I am, I see no love for the myths and archetypes these character represent to me. I find it amazing that someone could make something both PLOT-DRIVEN--with lazy research or any character development--AND boring.

Question: How does Green Lama, Man of Strength differ from how Dynamite, Image and others are handling their self-styled "revivals" of the golden age gang?

Jim Ritchey: Even in my excursion into 'rebooting'--my Lama is the reincarnation of the 1940's Lama--it all revolves around his remembering who he was--in a 'mash-up' universe that combines both the pulp and the Spark Publications versions--where he [Dumont] succeeds in his original mission after the last published story, to become a Guru of sorts, and spread the good news of Lamaism'. While it's only a footnote part of the saga, it's firmly explained that he's always been 'The Green Man' of myth, for countless incarnations, in an attempt to capture the feeling I got when I first saw him as a kid on the cover of Steranko's History of Comics.

Question: Besides the Green Lama, are you utilizing other golden age characters?

Jim Ritchey: I'm doing similar things with the Nedor, Spark and other regular AC characters--just fleshing them out, but keeping to the myth. People forget that authors like Mickey Spillane and Patricia Highsmith wrote comics in the 'Forties, or that Somerset Maugham's 'The Razor's Edge' could have been a retelling of The Green Lama! I’m just writing what I know, and approaching this stuff like real novels about realistically-motivated people, while keeping the 'myth' intact..

Question: Do you have any trepidation about going up against Alex Ross and company?

Jim Ritchey: Green Lama, Man of Strength is no more or less adult than what they're doing--just--smarter, and characterization-driven. I'm not doing Femforce "good girl' stuff at all, either--not that there's anything wrong with it. You can like Picasso and not draw like him. There was much to like once I got into their archives--a vast sea of material to distort for my different, 'Spark Universe'. The few people who have bothered to read the first issue [already released], and who've also kept track of Dynamite, have said the writing's better, but I'm the first to admit I can't outdraw Ross or Klauba. Issue two is out in June.

Question: You may have even had a "role" inspiring Project: Superpowers; wanna dish about that?

Jim Ritchey: In 2004 at Heroes Convention [in Charlotte, NC], a guy at my artist's alley table kept asking me questions about my new project--Green Lama for AC Comics--and my idea to set up a new universe within AC, where we would do straightforward, 'literary', modern reboots of public domain characters from the golden and atom ages. I was to find out later that his name was Jim Krueger. Needless to say, the announcement of Project Superpowers left me completely demoralized.

Question: It sounds like you guys could have been ahead of the curve - so to speak - on the golden age revival wave. What happened?

Jim Ritchey: For reasons beyond my control, my book was postponed--until Bill Black decided that he'd like to hold onto characters he'd been using for over twenty years --after Dynamite had made their announcement --then our book came out, and outsold everything else AC Comics put out last year; THEN Bill decided to allow me a regular series. True story, so I was pleased that Bill changed his mind.

Question: Good luck with your Green Lama series and thanks for the chance to profile it here in the Catacombs. Is there any last point you would like to add?

Jim Ritchey: Our promotion is purely grass roots--if you find anything I'm doing interesting, any help you can give would be appreciated– and there is more art and stuff on my link. Thanks.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Retro-View: Spooky Spooktown #59 (Harvey Comics)

I’ve just got to tell you that it’s a sad fact to me that the Harvey Comics family of titles aren’t still available on the stands (and in the shops) with regularly released new material. When I was younger, even though I loved the comic books that Marvel Comics and DC Comics published, the Harvey Comics stuff was always a big draw for me.

Richie Rich, Casper, Hot Stuff, Wendy, Audrey, Little Dot, Spooky, Sad Sack and the rest were tons & tons of fun for kids of all ages. The stories were simple, straight forward and had loads of laughs; and the artwork on all of the Harvey features was absolutely topnotch. Please lament along with me as you sit down and enjoy this "Retro-View" of Harvey Comics Spooky Spooktown #59 from October 1975.

Spooky (the tuff little ghost) stars in "Spooky’s Family Tree" in which the "doiby-wearing" ghost becomes jealous when his girl, Pearl ("Poil") spends time with the erstwhile Lord Shreekly J. Scarington, the 5th aboard his yacht, The Flying Dutchman II. Spooky invisibly flies aboard to scare the daylights out of them, but instead earns an invitation to a posh party in Spookhampton from the purportedly rich Shreekly. Encouraged by Pearl, to investigate his own family tree, Spooky discovers that his Pop, Grandpa & Great-Grandpa were all conniving crooks and thieves in their day.

After a one-page Spooky short, and a full-page Hostess Fruit Pie ad (disguised as a Sad Sack short), we are treated to Part Two of the story in "The Great Jewel Robbery" in which Spooky and Pearl attend the party only to have poor Spooky set up as the fall guy for the "bogus" Lord Shreekly and his cronies, as they loot the other guests. Accused of the thefts and thrown into the dungeon, Spooky is shocked to discover his own Pop, Grandpa & Great-Grandpa are in cahoots with Shreekly, who is revealed as his cousin, Swifty Fantom! Needless to say, Spooky escapes, frees the real Lord Shreekly and turns the tables on his rotten family to save the day. Tuff little ghost indeed!

This issue also features The Ghostly Trio in "The Boo Inspector" (guest starring Casper) and Nightmare the Galloping Ghost in "Horse Force", plus a two-page Spooky text story (w/illustrations) for a neat and totally fun comic reading experience.

My brother David still picks up lots of this kind of stuff, and we’ve noticed that the Harvey Comics routinely fetch high prices on eBay, and deservedly so, because they just don’t make them like this anymore. Treat yourself to some of these gems and smile. Seek them out! You’ll be glad that you did.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Warner Bros. to reboot Superman films....again?

Warner Bros. has announced that they are going to reboot the Superman film franchise….yet again. So before that whole ball of wax gets underway, let’s take a few moments to point out the obvious to the studio heads, who – let’s face it – aren’t going to listen anyway. Guys, you make too much money to actually think for yourselves, so as a token freebie, here’s what worked about Superman Returns:

The special effects, scoring & sound effects; in fact, all of the technical stuff that is the bread and butter of such big budget genre films was simply fine and needn’t be stressed over….just do more of the same next time. (The sequence where Superman saved the plane was particularly nice.)

The marketing of your competed film was also adequate; you have been doing this for quite awhile after all, so just remember that Superman has a built in comic book audience and the Man of Steel crosses over to the general population pretty well too. It’s a given that Superman is a household name after 70+ years. That’s another no-brainer that you won’t have to stress over.

The casting of Brandon Routh was spot on. His slight resemblance to the late Christopher Reeve was uncanny, and since that version of Superman lingers in audiences minds, why not exploit it? The fact that he was comfortably able to drop into the role and accomplish the thankless task of following Reeve as Superman, and then successfully play both the dichotomy of Superman and Clark Kent makes me think that he deserves another shot at the title. Bring Routh back if at all possible. The same goes for Frank Langella as Perry White and Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olsen and Eva Marie Saint as Ma Kent, if you want to feature those characters in the reboot. These three actors were all fine choices for their roles and made the best of them. Why fix what isn’t broken? Again, this would also minimize the stress of additional casting, because we have other acting fish to fry.

Some casting didn’t work at all. Kate Bosworth was…absolutely…terribly….miscast as Lois Lane. Didn’t anybody watch the dailies during filming? She is a cute actress and she has been in a few movies, but Lois is a crucial franchise character and Bosworth was too light weight, too ineffectual, and simply unbelievable in the film. James Marsden was actually not bad as Richard White, but the character was absolutely unnecessary. His sole importance was to provide a barrier between Lois and Clark, and 70+ years worth of comic book continuity could easily have provided you with better examples for utilizing that conceit than what was done in Superman Returns with the extraneous character of Richard White. Alos, please drop the Lois was pregnant/Super-baby crap in any additional movies. Nuff said, but hire another casting agent!

Lex Luthor. Superman the Movie. Superman II. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Superman Returns have all used Luthor as the main foil, but Lex Luthor has yet to actually appear on the big screen. Oh, there was Gene Hackman's comedic-romp-for-laughs-version of Luthor in the first three movies that I’ve mentioned, but Kevin Spacey, who certainly had the potential to give us a menacing version of Superman’s arch nemesis, leaned way too close to the Hackman version of Luthor for my tastes and Gene had already given us that one. You guys blew it! Before you have yet another go at Lex, let me throw a few other names at you.

Brainiac. Bizarro. Metallo. The Toyman. The Prankster. Mr. Myxyzptlk. Mongul. Terra-Man. The Kryptonite Man. Titano. Intergang.

All of them are classic Superman foes that you haven’t even given a chance. Hell, even Jack Kirby’s awesomely powerful Darkseid (from the New Gods) has faced off against the Man of Steel in the comics many times and Superman vs. Darkseid would be an awesome movie. There are also some visually interesting threats of more recent vintage like the female Silver Banshee. You know, since Superman was supposedly away for five years – off in space – to visit the remnants of the planet Krypton, maybe showing us that journey would have made a great flick. Superman has visited hundreds of alien planets in the comics over the course of 70+ years, and had subsequent adventures and battles on them. Out of the list of villains that I’ve just mentioned, there are at least a few that he may have encountered on such a trip. This is not a stretch, guys! Stress free is the way to go.

The director was another place where you blew it. Bryan Singer basically took your money and gave you back a love letter to the Richard Donner films, but it was a hit and miss as a new franchise starter. Superman Returns wasn’t a bad movie, but Singer’s X-Men films (hit or miss, again) didn’t at all suggest that he was the guy to revive Superman and guess what – he wasn’t? A different director is the order of the day in any relaunch effort. Trust me!

Now, the last bit of free advice that I want to offer the overpaid Warner Bros studio heads is another example of stress free thinking. When it comes to designing: the characters, the environment, the costuming; and most particularly the storyboarding that all films do in preproduction, just stop it, you goofballs. 70+ years of comic book work by the top artistic talent in the business, on the very character – Superman – that you want to translate to films….yet again….has already been done. You also don't need to hire a script jockey to "create" a story. Same principle, here bozos, that works been done - the whole best in the business thing - applies to 70+ years worth of comic book writers too. Just retain someone who can competently do an adaptation, you know, from the very medium that you want to strip mine. If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Gal" Friday! Marilyn Chambers (Rest in Peace)

Marilyn Chambers 1972 adult film, Behind the Green Door was a game changer. No only did it introduce the X-rated film set to former Ivory Snow model Marilyn, but the film prominently included the first major sex scene between a white female and a black male.

It's been too many years since I've actually viewed the movie, but it did elevate the sordid world of porn films somewhat. After Green Door, better production values and slightly better plotting became more common in adult films. Chambers had a storied "acting" career, and she even crossed over on rare occasion to standard movies, such as the horror film, Rabid. However, when it came to XX-film work, there was literally nothing that Marilyn wouldn't do. She gets an "A" from the Catacombs for that level of commitment.

Either way, she really "earned" her fame and notoriety, and with her recent death, many condolences go out to her family, friends and fans.

Rayboy's Review: Green Lantern #39 (DC Comics)

The buildup to this summers "Blackest Night" event continues in DC Comics Green Lantern #39 (April 2009) from writer Geoff Johns and artists Philip Tan and Jonathan Glapion. "Agent Orange: Part One" starts with an incursion by a small contingent of the immortal Controllers on the planet Okaara, in the Vega System (home turf of The Omega Men).

It seems that the Controllers have arrived seeking a power source of their own, in order to challenge their ancient masters, the Guardians of the Universe. Bypassing the rotting carcass of a large alien beast, to their eternal regret the Controllers discover an orange lantern aglow with "light" power similar to that of the Guardians Green Lantern Corps. Unleashing the fury of Larfleeze and his Orange Lantern Corpsmen, the Controllers are slaughtered where they stand and "Agent Orange" lashes out into the universe, first encountering Green Lantern member, Stel, who also gets trashed by this awesome new threat.

We catch up with the star of this book, Hal Jordan, who is currently on the planet called Odym, home world of the Blue Lantern Corps (yeah, I know). Given that the green power ring which gives him his super-heroic name is fueled by will-power and that over the last year or so, readers have been introduced to the concept of various Lantern Corps of different colors, different attributes and different ideologies, this will come as no surprise to you regulars.

It seems that in order to operate, the entirety of the Blue Lantern Corps has to be in the vicinity of a Green Lantern Corpsman – like Hal – but the blue ring (which he has also received) seems to be giving him a fit and per Ganthet (former Guardian and current Blue Lantern chief), Hal has to tap into his inner "hope". You see it’s "hope", not will that fuels the blue rings. With no clear idea of what to make of his situation, Hal flies off in search of the villainous Sinestro of the Yellow Lantern Corps. However, we will just have to wait and see how that all works out for Mr. Jordan, because the issue ends with Larfleeze breaking into Oa to take the Guardians to task for "their" Controllers violating the old agreement to stay out of the Vega System. And one of the Guardians declares that with the War of Light impending, the little blue man had better rethink the whole Vega jurisdiction thing and get their asses over to that end of the universe to find out what the heck is going on.

When Geoff Johns is on, he is really on. "Agent Orange" was both exciting and riveting, and the art by Mr. Tan was just as good as what I’ve seen from Ivan Reis or Ethan Van Sciver. I may not have been picking up Green Lantern, but after hearing lots of good word of mouth, I gave this book a try and I will be on board for the remainder of this storyline. Hopefully, "Blackest Night" will live up to its hype too, but I do have to wonder just how many more "colors" we will be introduced to and where it all will ultimately lead. I can foresee a character down the line who manages to wield one ring of each color on each finger of his (or her) hand. Maybe he/she will be called Sauron or the Mandarin. One ring to rule them all. Sheesh!


Rayboy's Review: Booster Gold #19 (DC Comics)

Booster Gold: The Greatest Hero You’ve Never Heard Of!

It says so right on the front cover of DC Comics Booster Gold #19 (June 2009) by writer/artist Dan Jurgens & inker Norm Rapmund. I hate to quibble, but I have heard of Booster, and I’ve been flipping through various issues of his series since it was relaunched, but I hadn’t actually bought a copy until now.

I have enjoyed Dan Jurgens earlier work on such series as Legion of Super-Heroes, Teen Titans and the original Booster Gold series in the 1980’s, but these days I am a really hard sell on new books. Heck, I seldom start watching any television series from the get go, and it’s not that I have to wait for something to become a hit before I check it out – just the opposite in fact – it’s just that I distrust much of what passes for funny book entertainment these days; most current comic books have grown too "dark" or too "adult-oriented [Yeah, right!], or they are incessantly, inbred (dominated by a small coterie of egomaniacs and their lemming-minded sycophants) and then they only pander to the same dwindling comic shop crowd, instead of reaching out to the general population (as virtually all comics used to). Enough of the rant!

"Reality Lost Epilogue" begins with Rip Hunter secretly helping Princess Koriand’r (aka Starfire) escape from her Gordanian captors prior to the classic Wolfman/Perez/Tanghal New Teen Titans #1 from the early 1980’s. The action then moves to ancient Egypt, where the current Booster Gold and another Booster who has been snatched from the recent past, are mulling over events of the last few issues; where for instance, the duo has apparently saved the time-stream. There is some really nice color work here by Hi-Fi; particularly in how the glare of the sun is suggested, to great effect, in several panels set in the Egyptian desert.

Before the twin Booster’s make their escape back to the future, a five page sequence reveals the reaction of Booster’s sister Michelle (aka Goldstar) to the news that she had been dead, and was only recently saved by Rip Hunter & Booster – neither of whom managed to tell her this information themselves. Needless to say, she isn’t happy and it appears that after she magnetically zaps Booster’s droid pal, Skeets, Michelle uses the available time travel technology to disappear to a place/and or time of her own choosing – without leaving a clue for her brother to follow.

The issue closes out with "current" Booster restoring "past" Booster to his actual historical time-frame (after a convenient mindwipe strips him of his memories), and then popping back into his own future just in time to salvage Rip, who had been left at the mercy of the Gordanians. Both time masters now have to deal with the ramifications of Michelle’s absence.

I bought this issue to see if this was a title that I could commit to and I admit that I was more than pleased with it. Dan Jurgens has long exhibited a fine talent, he can write a very entertaining story and he definitely brings his A-game to the penciling chores. Norm Rapmund is a good choice of finishing artist also. I’ve already mentioned that the coloring on the book is topnotch, so if you are bored with everything else on the stands, please check out Booster Gold. I also have to mention that since Booster has apparently found his niche as the guardian of the time-stream, based on what I’ve seen of the last several issues where he's interacted with or participated in most of DC's major crossover events of recent years, it’s like this title alone is a mini-event in and of itself.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Profile Antics: Rich Buckler

Rich Buckler has been working in the comics field since the early 1970s. In his early years at Marvel, he was known for his work on The Fantastic Four as well as his own original creation, Deathlok in Astonishing Tales #25. Buckler has drawn virtually every major character at Marvel and DC, often as a cover artist. Other notable work includes his collaboration with writer Don McGregor on the acclaimed 1970s Black Panther series in Jungle Action.

Buckler broke into comics as a teenager with the four-page historical story "Freedom Fighters: Washington Attacks Trenton" in the King Features comic book Flash Gordon #10, November 1967.

At DC in the early-80s, he helped Roy Thomas launch All-Star Squadron. In the mid-1980s he returned to Marvel and had a short but memorable run on the title Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man with writer Peter David, where they produced the "Death of Jean DeWolff" storyline. He is the author of two books: How to Become a Comic Book Artist and How to Draw Superheroes.

Although I've done an occasional Profile Antics feature, I was inspired by my pal Wayne (who has been posting profiles of some of his favorite artists over at this link) and I thought that it was a good enough idea to mimic. Since I have virtually run out of 1970's Flashback subjects (and while I am in the process of compiling plenty of 1980's Flashbacks), I will be putting up Profile Antics featurettes for those great illustrators who I enjoy, respect and love.

Head's up: Tomorrow's "Gal" Friday selection has come down to either an iconic porn queen who sadly passed away this week or another "comic book femme fatale" who tends to run around disrobed. I'll have to sleep on which "gal" gets the nod this time around [and I wish that I meant that literally; with respect to the departed].

I also will be putting up Rayboy's Reviews for two current DC Comics books that I finally got around to buying and reading. Check back here on Friday....if you're curious. Ciao!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Starlog signs off!

After 374 issues, Starlog magazine has called it a day. The current owners of the magazine have ended the printed edition of the sci-fi, media and comics genre publication. What now passes for Starlog will continue to be available only as an online e-publication.

I loved Starlog as a teenager and tried never to miss an issue in the late 1970's and early 1980's. I had amassed a small mountain of Starlog magazines, when I finally stopped picking it up too many years ago to actually remember when my last purchase occurred.

Like many other folks who have posted their reactions to this "death", I didn't even realize that Starlog was still being published.

Back in the days when the Internet wasn't around, its coverage of the Star Trek continuations, exploding Star Wars phenomena and other genre stuff from TV shows to comics and beyond was a real treat for fandom. Thanks Starlog, for keeping us in the mix over the past 33 years.

Monday, April 13, 2009

1970's Flashback: John Carter, Warlord of Mars

John Carter, Warlord of Mars is a Marvel Comics series created in 1977 by writer/editor Marv Wolfman and artists Gil Kane & Dave Cockrum , based on the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs and featuring the eponymous title character, a Confederate soldier who is mysteriously transported to the red planet. The series ran for 28 issues from 1977 to 1979, and three annuals. It won the Favorite New title Eagle Award in 1978.

Gil Kane illustrated about ten issues before Rudy Nebres and Ernie Chan took over art chores. Chris Claremont replaced Wolfman as writer after fifteen issues.

The first issue alone is worth seeking out for the incredible blend of Kane & Cockrum (the same team that drew the classic 1970's debut cover of Giant-Size X-Men #1).

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Gal" Friday! Angelica Bella

Angelica Bella is a Hungarian porn star. It looks like she's been making films for awhile now, but since they are in Italian and German, I haven't really seen any of them. I found this photo on the Frank Cho forum and it made me smile, so I thought that I would share it with all of you other pervs. I don't know what else to add to that besides....damn. What a nice set of....well you get the picture. And also, what a nice....tush.

XXX or not, I would definitely like to have her serve me a feast off of any part of her.

Retro-View: The Avengers #143 (Marvel Comics)

Marvel Comics The Avengers #143 (January 1976) was written by Steve Englehart, illustrated by George Perez & Sam Grainger and edited by Marv Wolfman. "Right Between The Eons!" depicts a battle between time-lost Avengers members Hawkeye, Moondragon & Thor versus Kang the Conqueror in Tombstone, Arizona in 1873. Of course, this is a follow up to the previous issue when several of the company's western-themed heroes guest starred, and this time around, the Two-Gun Kid is still part of the mix.

After finagling the password out of one of Kang's henchmen, the team rides into Tombstone in disguise in order to launch an assault on his artificially constructed headquarters. However, before we are treated to that tension fraught skirmish, we briefly pop back to the future (our present) to check in on the rest of the Avengers who find themselves trapped within the walls of the Brand Corporation, thanks to the Squadron Supreme (last issue). Captain America hatches a nifty scheme which allows the Vision to free them from their energy-prison, alongside Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch, the Beast and Patsy Walker (who will adopt her own superhero identity next issue).

The action then returns to Tombstone, where Kang has used 41st century science to unleash a monstrous, genetically modified coyote on Hawkeye, Moondragon and the Two-Gun Kid, who pretty much get the stuffing kicked out of them. Unbeknownst to the Conqueror, the remaining disguised member of the team, has quietly flanked him, and with the aid of his trusty hammer Mjolnir, the Thunder God called Thor knocks Kang completely through the walls of his own fortress and out into the streets of 1873 Tombstone.

Inside the citadel, Moondragon recovers long enough to mindblast the horrific beast before he can crush Two-Gun (who is obviously rattled by this experience) and then we see Thor lay some serious smackdown on poor Kang, whose only option is to release greater and greater amounts of energy, but whoops, he overdoes it and inadvertently destroys himself in the process.

The issue closes out with a quick manifestation of Immortus who tells the assembled heroes that the cycle has been broken and now, none of the visages of Kang will ever have existed. For those of you who don't know, that also includes Kangs latter identities of Rama-Tut and Immortus. At the end, Moondragon sheds a tear over the loss of another "god", since she suffers delusions of grandeur herself (having recently missed out on becoming the Celestial Madonna).

It's worth mentioning that the otherwise superb Gil Kane cover strangely depicts the Avengers contingent from the "present" battling against the genetically-modified coyote that the 1873 team encounters inside this issue. Weird! The early Perez art still holds lots of charm all these years later and Sam Grainger was a terrific inker over Gentleman George's pencils. The script by Englehart is really well done and exciting, and even with this issue being the middle portion of an extended story arc (not a term used back in those days), it was easy to follow along. Although I used to have issues in and around this one, I hadn't ever read this one until recently. Don't you just love old comics? And yes, I do remember that it is supposed to be "Gal" Friday today, but that post will be added a bit later in the day.

Relax! It will be worth the wait.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Retro-View: Adventure Into Fear with The Man-Thing #17 (Marvel Comics)

Marvel Comics Adventure Into Fear #17 (October 1973) was written by Steve Gerber and illustrated by Val Mayerik & Sal Trapani. "It Came Out of the Sky!" begins with an obvious and intentional homage to the numero uno character from Marvel's "Distinguished Competition" - Superman. The mindless, muck-monster from Citrusville, Florida (otherwise known as the Man-Thing) inadvertently stumbles upon a silver rocket ship, and after battering, shaking and finally, simply smashing the wayward missile into a nearby tree - what emerges is the superbly muscled, auburn-haired figure of a young man.

At this point, unlike the Man-Thing himself, the readers are treated to a nifty back-story which reveals that twenty-four years earlier on the planet Dakkam, [mirroring the golden age origin of the legendary Man of Steel] an astronomer called Hektu desperately tried to warn the leaders of his world that their planet was doomed due to the imminent supernova of the planets sun. Failing to convince them, and under the penalty of imprisonment, Hektu and his wife Soja toil for six Earth months, to construct a spacecraft to transport them to safety on another world. At the last moment, the authorities dispatch police forces to stop their efforts, in order to prevent an unnecessary panic. Hektu and Soja are both killed, but not before Soja places their infant son, called Wundarr, into the spaceship and activates the launch of the craft.

Arriving on Earth in July 1951, the rocket ship is espied by an old couple as it crashes into the nearby swamp [again, mirroring the golden age Superman's Ma & Pa Kent], however the two opt to ignore the "flying saucer"; since it could be Martians or communists. I kid you not! The infant trapped inside then spends the next two dozen years "growing up" within the confined womb of the vessel, innocently thinking that this is all that the world amounts to; that is until the Man-Thing shatters his illusions. Spotting the shambling beast, but without the verbal skills to address it, Wundarr leaps with joy - thinking that the brute is his "mother" and surprisingly discovers that he has phenomenal powers granted to him on Earth that he would not have on his native Dakkam.

Wundarr's leap carries him several miles away, where he comes plunging down, destroying a large construction crane in the process. Subsequently driven away by the gunshots (which don't actually harm him) of the construction crew, Wundarr uses his nascent x-ray vision to spot the Man-Thing who is still fumbling around back at the original crash site several miles away. After a brief tussle with an alligator, Wundarr - still not in command of his great strength - manages to return to the site of his "birth" and engages the Man-Thing in all-out brawl which spills over to the nearby hamlet of Citrusville.

The obligatory battle effectively culminates in a draw between the two relative innocents, and as the muck-monster finally loses interest and shambles away, Wundarr realizes that his beseeching pleas to his “mother” have fallen on deaf ears, so he flies away to seek comfort elsewhere.

Gerber turns in a very fun story and an interesting homage to Superman, the artwork is pretty cool, too. Even the coloring by George Roussos is excellent, and it should be mentioned that Wundarr’s costume makes use of the same color scheme as DC’s Man of Tomorrow (although the colors are inverted on this issues cover). The issues cover art is provided by Frank Brunner.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rulah Jungle Goddess in "The Man Who Wouldn't Die!" (Fox Comics; 1949)

All right all of you jungle girl fans, it's time to welcome back our favorite queen of the wild, Rulah Jungle Goddess. This story is from issue #23 (February 1949). Rulah runs afoul of "The Man Who Wouldn't Die" - or so he thought. Sorry about page 7, it's not scanned at the same size as the other pages.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1970's Flashback: Night Nurse

Marvel Comics Night Nurse lasted four issues in late 1972 and early 1973. The series was originally introduced as one of a trio of Marvel Comics aimed at a female audience, alongside Claws of the Cat and Shanna the She-Devil. Night Nurse straddled several different genres, and focused on the adventures of three female roommates who worked the night shift at the fictional Metropolitan General Hospital in New York City: Linda Carter, Georgia Jenkins, and Christine Palmer.

The series was written by Jean Thomas (then wife of comics writer & editor Roy Thomas) and drawn by Winslow Mortimer. Unlike most of Marvels offerings at the time, the stories contain no superheroes or fantastic elements. However, the night nurses do encounter a fair amount of "danger, drama and death", [as the cover proclaimed] as they work to foil bomb plots, mal-practicing surgeons, and mob-affiliated hitmen. Night Nurse, like other relevant-trend comics of the 1970s, attempted to address real-world social issues; Night Nurse #1 featured a scene where a character asking why his poor neighborhood is always the one experiencing power outages. "Why not Park Avenue for a change?"

Night Nurse #4 was the only issue of the series that took place away from Metro General (and New York City). This story shifted away from the urban drama of the first three issues and instead featured Christine embroiled in a suspenseful Gothic-style adventure, complete with a foreboding mansion, dusty secret passageways, and mysterious lights.

Night Nurse had an all-too brief run as a series, but due to low distribution of its published issues, the series fetches very high prices today and is considered scare.

Monday, April 6, 2009

In Memorium: Frank Springer

Frank Springer, a longtime Long Islander who was a prolific comics artist for such strips as "Terry and the Pirates" and "Rex Morgan, M.D.," died Thursday at his home in Maine of prostate cancer. He was 79.

Frank Springer drew for a wide variety of companies, including DC Comics and Marvel. He also illustrated an adult-themed satire, "The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist," a comic that Springer considered one of his best works.

Frank Springer was born Dec. 6, 1929, in Jamaica, Queens. After earning a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Syracuse University, he joined the Army during the Korean War and drew maps at Fort Dix, N.J.

Springer was past president of the National Cartoonists Society, and a founding member of the the society's Long Island chapter. He won the society's Reuben Award three times.

Condolences go out to his family, friends and thousands of fans.

...and the bargains shall set you free. (Hallelujah!)

So, my old pal, Rob Young held the first of two Greenville Comic Con shows for 2009 on Saturday, April 4. About a dozen (or so) dealers set up shop at the Comfort Inn, in a sizable room with plenty of space to move around in while searching for collectibles of all tastes - but mostly comic books.

Patience is a virtue people, so my brother and I arrived shortly after the festivities commenced, visited with several dealer buddies and friends, scanned the available comics (noting several that were worthy of attention), entered into preliminary negotiations and then headed out for lunch (lovely hot dogs and fries from a wonderful nearby greasy spoon).

After a quick trip over the my brothers hacienda to peruse his latest eBay auction acquisitions (classic comics scored for reasonable prices, all in top condition), and then it was back over to the closing hour of the show, where - Lo, and behold! - the good deals had gotten even better.

My own picks were: Conan the Barbarian #26 (May 1973), Adventure into Fear #17 (October 1973), The Avengers #143 (January 1976), The Black Panther #9 (May 1978) and Devil Dinosaur #2 (May 1978); all in Fine+/Very Fine condition for $3.00 each. Can you dig it? That was more than a dollar less per issue (counting tax) than you would pay for this weeks top comic shop hit, The Flash: Rebirth.

The artwork in these books was provided by the likes of John Buscema & Ernie Chan, Val Mayerick, George Perez and Jack "King" Kirby. Patience is a virtue, fanboys and these one day regional shows are gold mines for comic book enthusiasts. Plus the height of convention season is just about to get underway.

Oh, yeah!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Free Booty!

It's a bit of a lazy day for me and since I just love this bathtub shot, I felt the need to put it up for you all to ogle it! I gather that it comes from one of the British girlie mags, but I wouldn't swear to it. Not that I didn't shout out a hearty "Hot damn!" when I first saw it over at (the forum to go to for all things Frank Cho).

Yep! I certainly would love to have some very, private time with this young lady, and since I still have to cobble together my brief report for this weekends Greenville Comic Con; a semi-regular, one-day comics show that drew about 300 visitors on yesterday's bright and sunny Saturday in South Carolina - now was as good a time as any to finally let this luscious photo grace the Catacombs.

Great weather, lots of great comics, visiting with good friends, dealers and a day of hanging out with my brother.

That's how ya' spend a free weekend, folks! (Unless there is a handy blond lass available to really pass the time of day with. Yeesh!)

So, come and see me tomorrow for the breakdown on the mini-con and until then, just sit back and enjoy the view (left). I know that I will!

Friday, April 3, 2009

"Gal" Friday! (& Classic Cutie): Barbara Eden

Yesterday, I caught a re-run of one of the latter episodes of I Dream of Jeannie starring Barbara Eden and was reminded of just how "hot" a chick Eden had been. As fun as the entire series was, and given the - at the time - controversial decision to cover up the actress belly-button (in her "skimpy" genie costume), I've always preferred the shows from the later seasons, because Barbara got to wear a more expanded wardrobe selection which showed off her awesome figure better (especially her terrific legs).

Eden starred in I Dream of Jeannie as Jeannie, a genie who was set free from her bottle by astronaut Major Anthony Nelson, played by Larry Hagman. Barbara was initially passed over for the role as she was blond and of small stature, but Sidney Sheldon called on her when he was unable to find a suitable brunette to play the part. I Dream of Jeannie was a ratings success and it ran from 1965 until 1970. During this time Eden was twice nominated for Golden Globe Awards. She reprised her Jeannie role in two made-for-TV reunion movies (I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later in 1985 and I Still Dream of Jeannie in 1991), and also in the last scene of the fairly recent theatrical movie A Very Brady Sequel. In addition, she has played Jeannie in many TV commercials (AT&T, Lexus, Old Navy). I Dream of Jeannie has gone on to become one of the most successful series in international syndication earning Barbara Eden many fans over the world.

Barbara Eden also had featured roles in a few theatrical genre films like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wonderful World of The Brothers Grimm and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

1970's Flashback: The Scarecrow (Dead of Night)

One of Marvel Comics least seen heroes, The Scarecrow, made his debut in Dead of Night #1 in 1975; which was the final issue of that short run series of reprinted horror stories. After an additional appearance (or two), the Scarecrow disappeared for years, but his back-story was fleshed out in recent years, with the end result that since a regular villain bears the same name, the heroic version is currently called the Straw Man. The following information is taken from Marvel’s own website:

"Centuries ago, the Straw Man opposed the demon Kalumai. During one of their early battles, the Straw Man ripped one of Kalumai's horns from his head and closed the gateway through which Kalumai manifested on Earth, sealing it behind an oil painting known only as "The Scarecrow". The Cult of Kalumai was virtually destroyed, and over the succeeding years the painting traveled from hand to hand as occultists tried to fathom its secrets and Kalumai attempted to reopen the gateway. Eventually, the painting resurfaced in New York. Cultist Gregor Rovik attempted to purchase it, but when writer Dave Duncan forcibly intervened so his younger brother Jess could win the painting, the Straw Man's attention fell on Dave. When Rovik stole the painting and tried to sacrifice Jess' girlfriend Harmony Maxwell using Kalumai's horn, the Straw Man apparently possessed Dave as the Scarecrow, reclaiming Harmony and the painting, and gruesomely destroying Rovik upon an animated tree, leaving Dave with no memories of these events.

Kalumai's agent Bartolome sought to retrieve the horn by piping night demons through the gateway, but the Straw Man banished Bartolome and his demons. When the painting was publicly displayed, Kalumai found a sympathetic onlooker and recreated him as an avatar of his power. While the possessed man battled the Fantastic Four's Thing (who had accompanied his blind artist girlfriend Alicia Masters to the showing at the request of Jess Duncan, who wanted his help in unraveling the mystery of the Scarecrow), the Straw Man presumably controlled Dave. Tricking Kalumai's pawn into sealing the painting/gateway permanently with Kalumai's own power, the Straw Man vanished into the burning painting, apparently taking Dave Duncan with him forever.

Later, the Straw Man joined the convocation of Fear Lords, powerful demons who thrive on fear. The Straw Man attended only to inform the others that Earth was under his protection and he would oppose their plans. To aid humanity in resisting their fear-mongering, he manifested under the name Skirra Corvus and created the "Horror TV" cable network to inoculate humanity against fear. Informing Dr. Strange of the Fear Lords' actions, the Straw Man's avatar was destroyed by the Lurking Unknown but left Strange the Scarecrow painting, through which he could return. When D'spayre betrayed the Fear Lords and absorbed their powers, the Straw Man returned and sacrificed yet another manifestation of himself to free Dr. Strange and defeat D'Spayre.

The Straw Man continues to observe humanity from his otherworldly home. Though he has acted as Earth's self-proclaimed protector, his true origins and motivations are known only to himself."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

DC acquires rights to The Badger

In a joint announcement late this morning, Dc Comics Editor-in-Chief Dan Didio and writer/creator Mike Baron revealed that Barons' cult hero, The Badger has won the "Battle for the Cowl" and would be replacing Bruce Wayne as The Batman in all DCU titles effective immediately.

Baron said, "Yeah! All of the Batman Family characters are putzes and Norbert Sykes could lick all of them with one hand tied behind his back."

DiDio added, "I think that the fans will really respond to this change [since the "real' Batman is dead] and that once the Badger debuts in this summer's "Blackest Night" event, the DC Universe will never be the same again. The Badger will also be exclusively appearing in his own All-Star, adult-oriented series. We are cancelling Detective Comics due to poor sales and that was the best direction to take this character in"

Baron snorted at this remark, "Hell no! I insisted that Badger be given the same treatment as Quitely's Superman dreck."

Marvel acquires rights to Nexus!

In a joint announcement this morning Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada and Nexus co-creators Mike Baron & Steve Rude revealed that the famed cosmic executioner would be making his debut as a Marvel Universe hero in a special "flashback" Secret Invasion crossover issue on Free Comic Book Day.

Quesada said, "Yeah! Nexus will be joining one of the premiere teams of the MU when he takes over leadership of the X-Men."

Mike Baron added that, "It was apparently so secret that nobody was aware of it until today."

Artist Steve Rude was the only one who expressed reservations about the sale of the popular cult character the the House of Ideas. "I don't really see how this can all work out as an ongoing project," Rude whined. "I mean, after Horatio Hellpop [Nexus alter ego] killed Wolverine in the stand-alone Secret Invasion special. What was there left to do?"

Eager fans will get their first glimpse of the Next-man (pun intended) in early May!