Wednesday, October 31, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Strange Adventures #207

Strange Adventures #207 (On Sale: October 31, 1967) features Neal Adams' first Deadman cover and his fifth cover of the month.

"What Makes a Corpse Cry?" is by Carmine Infantino (plot), Jack Miller (script) and Neal Adams (art). Deadman leaves the circus to search for his killer. He remembers an encounter at a night club prior to his death in which he was threatened by Rocky Manzel. Deadman returns to the club hoping to learn if Rocky was responsible for his murder. He takes over the body of Paul the bartender and discovers a counterfeiting operation under the club. Deadman's efforts get Rocky apprehended by the police and free Paul and his girlfriend Liz from Rocky's grip. Reprinted in World's Finest Comics #226 and Deadman #2.

The back-up story is "Man of a Thousand Shapes" by Joe Samachsom, Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs and is a reprint from Strange Adventures #66.

Edited by Jack Miller.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm Back

I know, you didn't even know I was gone, right? Yeah, that's the way things work these days, sometimes people disappear and you don't even notice they are gone till much later, sort of like that favorite comic strip that you used to read every day and then one day you notice that you haven't read it in weeks and only then do you realize that it has been ousted from the pages of your newspaper.

So, I'm back. I was only gone for a short time, but it feels like it was a lot more. It started Saturday evening with a pain on my right side, just under the diaphragm. It felt like a hunger pang, so I paid no attention to it and ate a little; but it didn't go away. It wasn't a bad pain, just a little irritating, so I ate some more (this gorging on food consisted of a Healthy Choice pizza [not recommended] and a Healthy Choice dinner [not too bad]) and it filled me up, but that little nagging pain remained. Much later on I had a few grapes as a snack and about fifteen minutes after that all hell broke loose inside my body.

That little pain mushroomed in size and became a consistent pressure, like really bad gas, that surged across my body along the course of my diaphragm. Burping brought no relief and the pressure kept mounting. I knocked back two Pepcid to no affect. And then I began to vomit, also to no affect; the pressure kept increasing and with it the pain. I went up stairs and told my wife something was wrong with me and then I went and vomited again. When I came out of the bathroom my wife was dressed and ready to take me to the hospital. It took another 45 minutes of pain and more vomiting for me to agree with her.

The waiting room was the worst part; I was pounding on my head and gnawing at my knuckles, anything to get my mind off the waves of pure agony that coursed through me. Eventually they admitted me to the ER and gave me a shot of something that did not work. Next they gave me a shot of that liquid bliss called morphine and within minutes my agony became a dull ache I could easily live with.

They said it was my gall bladder, then gallstones, then pancreatitis caused by gallstones, then pancreatitis caused by an unknown agent. The only way to deal with pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, is to give the pancreas nothing to do and the only way to do that is to not eat. I spent Sunday in the hospital eating the occasional ice chip and nothing more. Every three to four hours as the pain came back I was given another shot of morphine. By Monday morning I was going about nine hours between morphine injections and feeling not too bad.

I saw a doctor on Monday around noon who told me that I did not have gallstones, or pancreatitis, and in fact they did not know what was wrong with me, but that they were going to let me go home anyway. I was feeling good and had a last morphine injection at about 3:00PM on Monday and was released about 6:30. But they had given me somethings to eat, broth and jello and the like and there was some discomfort in my stomach. By the time I went to bed at around 9:30 I would have killed for a morphine shot.

The original pain was gone, but it felt, and still feels, like a baseball bat was taken to my abdomen, like every organ in my digestive system is black and blue. It was a hard night, made only slightly better by Tylenol.

So I'm back and feeling like crap and unable to move much and unable to sit much and unable to lay down much, which pretty much means I cannot in any way get comfortable. But I'm back.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Gauntlet

I was reminded today, and I'll tell you at a later time how that came about, of censorship and right-wing hypocrisy and how fragile is our freedom to express ourselves artistically in a country where religious nuts are allowed to run wild and impose their screwed up version of morality on the rest of us, and it got me thinking about another time, long ago, when I ran into almost the exact same scenario.

My comic book partner (hell, we went to high school together) Baron Mrkva and I were finishing up work on our first comic book, Mayhem #1 and were in search of a printer. We had little real knowledge of what we were attempting and almost zero contacts with anyone in the business, so we trusted in each other and few others, to maneuver our way through the gauntlet, where we started out as high school buddies who knew nothing about publishing comic books and where at the end we had a comic book published. It was a fairly daunting gauntlet, but one we were jazzed about traversing.

This was before the Internet or on-line forums; there was really no place to go for information except to those who had already made it through the gauntlet, and like I said, we did not know any of those people. As it came closer to the time of publication, I began scouring the indica of existing underground comic books for clues as to where they were printed and found information in one that pointed to a printed in Riverside California, not more than 20 miles from my home in San Bernardino. We called the printer up, told him what we were doing and asked if we could show them some of the artwork. We were concerned about the number of half-tones the book would require and that special care would be needed with the book in that some pages were pre-toned using zip-a-tone sheets and some were not, being done in wash and some had a little of both.

We made an appointment and trudged down to the printer with our originals where we discussed prices and volume and timing. All seemed to be going well till we began showing him the artwork. He had a problem with my artwork. "There are naked people in here."

"Yes, yes there are."

"Well we don't print pornography."

"Good for you, this is a comic book with a few naked people in it, not pornography."

"No, I won't print pornography. It's a sin."

"The last comic you printed was 'Tits and Clits #2'!"

"No, we never printed that book."

"It's where I got your name you asshole!"

The guy suggested I might want to change my artwork to conform to his idea of morality. Fat chance that was going to happen, then or now.

So, but for a tit-shot or two, one flopping soft penis and a not actually shown blow job, all far tamer than almost anything in Tits and Clits, we would have had a printer.

Sometimes The Truth Just Appears Like Magic

Friday, October 26, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Justice League of America #59

Justice League of America #59 (On Sale: October 26, 1967) sports a Mike Sekowsky and Sid Greene JLA cover.

"The Justice Leaguers' Impossible Adventure" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Sid Greene. Five Justice League members are teleported to the planet Marithania by its rulers, the Impossibles, to have their super-powers taken away on the grounds that, whereas their fellow members have earned theirs, these members came by their abilities by mere chance. (Superman, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter gained their powers by accident of birth, Flash received his super-speed through an accident, and Wonder Woman's abilities were a gift of the goddess Aphrodite).

When the Impossibles' enemies, the Contras, attack, the powerless heroes are forced into battle, and actually benefit from their loss, because their various weaknesses have also disappeared. Reprinted in Justice League of America Archives Vol. 7 HC

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Brave and the Bold #75

Brave and the Bold #75 (On Sale: October 24, 1967) features the fourth Neal Adams cover of the month and Neal's first shot at doing Batman.

"The Grasp of Shahn-Zi" is by Bob Haney, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Historians note, this story takes place on Earth-1, but does not explain how and/or why the Spectre, who lives on Earth-2, is visiting. Later stories reveal that there is an Earth-1 Jim Corrigan, but only one Spectre. Therefore, this story is considered the first appearance of the Earth-1 Jim Corrigan. If you don't know what all this Earth-1 Earth-2 mumbo jumbo means, don't sweat it.

Batman is a guest at a Chinese New Year party in Chinatown. The mayor of Chinatown, Bill Loo, admits that the old ways of his people are slowly changing as the new generations, like his son Danny, embrace modern culture. Shahn-Zi, a near-immortal river lord, is angered by this cultural transition. He seals off Chinatown from the rest of the city with a mystical barrier. He then tries to force Danny Loo to become his successor.

The Spectre is the only being capable of penetrating the mystical barrier. He enters Chinatown and joins with Batman to stop Shahn-Zi. While the Spectre battles the river lord directly, Batman acts to break the spell under which he has been put. Reprinted in Showcase Presents the Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1 TPB.

I owned this book for a while before I actually read it. As a kid this Adams' cover just scared the shit out of me.

Edited by George Kashdan.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Update on My Mother

We have spent the past five days at the hospital with my mother. Since we checked my mother into the hospital her heart has been constantly monitored, she has had three CAT scans, one EEG, daily speech and physical therapy and been put on and off a number of new drugs. Also, the manufacturer of her three-month-old pacemaker have been in doing something or other (apparently they have a number of units that are failing and killing patients). It has been very difficult for us to get any word from the doctors, until last night when we talked to all three of them (she has one for her heart, one for her brain and one for the rest of her).

A few days ago they had her on cumadin to thin her blood. She got a phone call and lightly hit herself in the cheek when answering the phone. Within a few minutes the whole area under her eye was black and bloated with blood. They took her off the cumadin as she is blind in one eye and very disoriented as a whole right now.

Yesterday they put her back on the cumadin as her heartbeat is extremely erratic. The doctors now believe that the erratic heartbeat triggered the stroke and could trigger another one if they don't get it under control. Her heart doctor said that Mom will not be going home until it is under control, which means she will spend at least two more days in the hospital. The neurologist could not find the results of one of the CAT scans, but is sure they will turn up soon. She also said that the EEG showed a lessening of brain activity on the left side, which is exactly what they expected.

The night nurse told us tonight that so far the cumadin has not corrected Mom's erratic heartbeat. The pacemaker is pacing her a lot of the time and then it goes up quite a bit as well.

My sister and her fiance are still here, but he will be going back to Oregon on Sunday, the same day my brother from Washington flies down. I have a brother in Nevada that is planning on coming next weekend and a brother in Texas who is still deciding when will be the best time to come.

The hospital is draining the life out of all of us as we spend 8-12 hours a day there. My sister and I were there yesterday evening and the TV was on in Mom's room and Gladiator was on. My Mom kept looking at the screen and finally said, "This looks interesting, too bad we can't hear what is being said." I went over and turned up the sound. We then showed her for the umpteenth time how to adjust the volume and she shook her head as if to say, "That is too complicated for me to learn." Some things have changed, but she was very much like her old self last night, which right now is the best we can hope for I guess.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Star Spangled War Stories #136

Star Spangled War Stories #136 (On Sale: October 17, 1967) features another Joe Kubert War That Time Forgot cover.

Inside "The Hot Rod of Death" is by Robert Kanigher and Jack Abel and features the War That Time Forgot.

The back-up feature is "The G.I. Who Cried Tank" featuring Sgt. Mule (I've never heard of this one) and is drawn by Jack Abel

Edited by Robert Kanigher.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Less Than Royal Treatment

We got back from our Mexican cruise on the Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas, in honor of my parent's 65th wedding anniversary on Sunday. Except for dropping $200 at the Texas Hold-Em table everything was going fine until our last night on the ship. We had a cocktail party in my uncle's cabin before dinner, my Uncle Gordon, my parents, my sister Barbara and her fiance Mick and Dayle, Brian and me. We left to get ready for dinner and a few minutes later Barbara, Mick and the three of us we seated at our table in the dining room, having just ordered our drinks when Uncle Gordon came in and said, "We think Rosalie (my mother) just had a stroke!"

We spent the next three hours in the ship's medical facility. My mother's blood pressure was 198/97 and she was incoherent. The doctor (at least we think he was a doctor), a big Russian man who spoke in broken English and possessed a loud barking voice, ordered the nurses about as they began dripping something into my mother, which slowly began to lower her blood pressure . When it got to 145/90 he said she was "out of trouble," that for her that would be "normal" and that she could not survive on a normal blood pressure of "120 or so." He and the nurses then left the room and I sat there watching her blood pressure slowly go down to the "normal 120 or so" and then still lower. When it got to 103 I found the doctor and asked about it. He then took her off the drip and her blood pressure went back to the 140 area.

They released her (against our wishes) and we kept asking the doctor about a stroke. "She no have stroke. Stop saying that word. No stroke here. High blood pressure only problem. No stroke." We watched her through the night and when we got off the ship in the morning I drove her to her hospital and we spent the day getting her checked in. They looked at her in the ER, did a CAT scan and said she had had a stroke. Duh! She had trouble forming words, didn't remember anything about Saturday, was docile and quiet. When we checked her in she had to sign an admittance form. She signed "Rosalie" and then stopped and stared at the paper. I said, "Keller" and she slowly signed her last name. She got into a room around 9:00 PM, ten hours after we arrived at the hospital.

She was better yesterday, remembering the cocktail party and the doctor (she thought he was handsome), but not much else. She was speaking better, being able to form more words. They will be looking for heart damage today and to see how her new pacemaker is working.

We did this trip this year because we were not sure both my parents would be around for a 70th anniversary; I hope we were wrong.

I did some checking this morning and it appears that Holland America is rated as having the best medical facilities and we may take that into consideration next time we cruise. When we took Holland America to Hawaii in 2003 we awoke the first morning to a Coast Guard helicopter hovering outside our balcony. A passenger had had a heart attack and they called for an air-lift. They also TURNED THE SHIP AROUND to meet the helicopter and put us 8 hours behind schedule when we hit Hawaii five days later. On Royal Caribbean the doctor would have most likely argued with the passenger over the chances that a heart attack had occurred.

Friday, October 12, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Blackhawk #238

Blackhawk #238 (On Sale: October 12, 1967) sports an unusual cover by the usual team of Dick Dillin and Charles Cuidera.

Inside we have "The Walking Booby-Traps" by Bob Haney, Dick Dillin and Charles Cuidera, a continuation of last issue's story. The Blackhawks are captured by the international criminal Barbarossa and the traitorous android G.E.O.R.G.E. agent, Johnny Vak. The team is knocked unconscious, then mysteriously released. When they return to G.E.O.R.G.E. headquarters they each discover powerful explosive implanted into the skulls. Though Mr. Delta places them under arrest for going off on their own while suspended, the team escapes in order to prevent the explosives from hurting others.

Edited by George Kashdan.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Tales of the Unexpected #104

Tales of the Unexpected #104 (On Sale: October 10, 1967) has a very dramatic cover by Neal Adams. When the mystery/horror craze hits in full stride over the next few years, Adams will be the guy who does the majority of the covers. Here is his first "mystery" cover for DC.

Inside we have "Master of the Voo-Doo Machine" by Carl Wessler and Bernard Baily which would later be reprinted in Unexpected #162, "I Was King of Dagger Island" drawn by the amazing Leonard Starr (known mainly for his 22-year run on the syndicated "On Stage")and reprinted from My Greatest Adventure #1 and finally "The 24-Hour Nightmare" drawn by Jack Abel.

Edited by Murry Boltinoff

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Off to Mexico

I leave this morning for a week-long cruise to Mexico in celebration of my parent's 65th wedding anniversary. Our group will consist of my wife Dayle and me, our son Brian, my parents (duh!), my sister Barbara, her fiance Mick and my Uncle Gordon. First time cruising for Barbara and Mick, but the rest of us are old-timers at sea. We will be hitting Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. The brochures say there is wi-fi in all the cabins and most of the common areas, but we shall see if this is so and how much will it set me back. I may post from the ship or I might just say, "Fuck it; I'm on vacation."

When I get back I have to get serious about finding work as it will be closing in on three months of unemployment by then, but I also have a salon showing of my artwork in early November and I need to get a few more pieces done. I shall be busy when I return, but hope to not think of much of this while at sea, though I am taking most of my pastel supplies, so if the mood strikes I can get a few pieces done on ship.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Something Republicans Could Learn From

Did anyone else catch the amazing video of Marion Jones on Countdown Friday night?

You can tell she isn't a Republican. Honesty, contrition, guilt and shame, things Republicans know nothing about.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Republicans Bash the Troops!

Oh why do they hate America so much? Why do they hate freedom? What can you say about a despicable Republican party that would actually try raising money off of Rush Limbaugh's attacks on Iraq veterans?

How unpatriotic! How unAmerican! How desperate?

Watch this from tonight's Keith Olbermann.

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Superboy #143

Superboy #143 (On Sale:October 5, 1967) sports a really wonderful Neal Adams cover, his first for the "Boy of Steel."

"The Big Fall" is written by E. Nelson Bridwell and drawn by Al Plastino. Plastino is another guy who is on his way out at DC. He has about six more months of work before he is let go after drawing Superman and the Superman family for 20 years, a victim of a style that cannot change with the times.

The second Superboy story, "Superboy's Civil War Time Trip" is a reprint from Superboy #91 by Jerry Siegel and George Papp. A Smallville celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the Civil War through a re-enactment includes the Kent family, Lana Lang, and Lex Luthor. Superboy travels into space to stop an alien missile, but when he returns to Earth he sees Clark Kent participating in the play. Knowing that it can’t be the real Clark, he watches and thinks that the explosion sent him into the past where he is seeing the real Civil War.

The people involved resemble the future residents of Smallville, except Clark is a spy, and the Luthor duplicate is a hero. Superboy tries to alter history, but in each case he is thwarted by fate.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Democratic-Blue Republican Elephant With Racing Stripes!

As Kieth Olbermann asked tonight, does anyone get this logo? Democratic blue, with racing stripes! And elephants only get up on two legs when they are humping! Best of all, this is to happen just a few miles away from the Sen. Larry Craig Memorial Mens Room Stall; Republican humping at its best! Hot, sweaty Republican mansex!

The Daily Kos has this take:

And yes,this is real, not an extremely clever photoshop job, and truly encapsulates what the Republican Party is all about.

Wide stance? Check.

In Minneapolis? Check.

Prison stripe-wearing? Check.

Starry eyed? Check.

As for the elephant humping the "2008"...

Are they going for a "Still screwing the country in 2008" theme, or is it a reference to hypocritical adulterers like David Vitter and just about the entire Republican presidential field?

All of the above? Check!

Apparently they ran out of space for a collapsing bridge.

Pants Aflame!

Remember when president shit-for-brains stood in front of the American people in 2005 and 2006 and declared, "We do not torture terror suspects?" Funny story. Ends up he was, oh, what's that word? The one always associated with this shithead? Oh yeah, lying. The mother fucker was lying, and he knew it! So all you people out there who still support this dirtbag need to ask yourself "why do you support him?"

He has no morals, no scruples, can't run a war, can't manage an economy, runs up record deficits, makes bigger and bigger government that wants to watch every thing that you do, lies through his teeth and even with owning the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Justice Department and the Supreme Court he didn't even attempt to reverse "Roe vs. Wade." If your pet desire from government is not "make really rich people even richer" then he doesn't give a shit about you or your wants and neither does his party. They do hope you ignore the massive evidence to the contrary and hope you still continue to vote for them even though they will never do for you what they promise when running for office.

He is a fucking liar; you people who still foolishly support him are just pathetic.

Christmas Comes Early for Democrats!

Today Sen. Larry Craig defiantly vowed to serve out his term in office on Thursday despite losing a court attempt to rescind his guilty plea in a men's room sex sting. Can it get much better than this for Democrats? They get to blast the hypocritical Republic party and their not-so-closeted gay members all the way through the primaries! They're all about "family values" folks, oh, and lying to your face! From Larry Craig to David Drier just one gay hypocrite after another!

I believe the song goes...

Happy days are here again!

Self Portrait

One of the reasons I have been unable to post much lately is that I am taking a basic drawing class in college right now. I don't think I need it, but it is the only way to get into the good art classes, so take it I have. Actually, the instructor is very good, making what would be really boring, pretty interesting. Our latest homework is to do a self portrait in conte and mixed media. Mine is 2% conte and 98% pastels and pastel pencils.

I did my painting on butcher paper, using a mirror I moved into the bedroom to the right I get my visual. This would be so much easier if I could just take a picture and go from that, but part of the assignment is no photo reference.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the portrait had to be life-sized?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Atom #34

Atom #34 (On Sale: October 3, 1967) has a cool cover by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. I loved those Gil Kane "big hand" covers!

Inside we have "Little Man -- You've Had a Big-Gang Day" by Gardner Fox, Gil Kane and Sid Greene. I'm not sure why the Atom never caught on as a character. Shrinking down to sub-atomic size seems like it would open up a whole world of interesting stories, but the Atom never seemed that exciting. I don't know if the problem was secret identity Ray Palmer or a reliance on "bug-based" villains, but something just never worked right here. Certainly, the problem was not the artwork; Gil Kane was a master comic book illustrator of great invention.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.