Friday, August 28, 2009

Ted Kennedy

As I recall, the National Lampoon Encyclopedia Of Humor was on the shelf for something like two days before it was recalled and this fake ad was removed. Click the picture to read the fine print.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

iGo Now

We are getting ready for a week+ long vacation and one of the things I am doing today is getting our cell phone chargers together. We use the iGo charger, which allows you to buy one charger and spend less than two dollars for the tip that fits your current phone. When you get a new phone, which requires a different charger you spend another buck+ on a new tip and you are good to go. We have three iGos, one for each car and one for the home. This all reminded me of what happened last year while I was traveling back and forth to Florida for work.

Yep, I left my iGo charger in my rental car, dumb-ass that I am. When I got home I called the rental car company (who shall remain nameless to protect the incompetent) and told them what had happened. They looked around, found my iGo in their lost-and-found box and said they would put it aside for me and I could pick it up the next time I was in Florida. I gave them the date of my next arrival (a week later) and said my "thank yous."

A week later I fly into Ft. Lauderdale and go by the nameless rental counter to pick up my iGo (my company had booked me this trip with a car from a different company). I tell them who I am and what I am there for and this woman takes my name and goes into the back room and is back there for about 15 minutes. She finally returns and says they don't have anything that looks like an iGo and I am just out of luck. I ask if I can look and so after a bit of huffing and puffing on the woman's part she retrieves the box of lost cell phone chargers from the back room.

"See, there is no charger like the one you described."

I said, "Did you look in the big envelope on the top of the box? The one with my name on it and today's date?"

Friday, August 21, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Brave and the Bold #86

Brave and the Bold #86 (On Sale: August 21, 1969) has another great cover by Neal Adams. Nothing like Deadman to bring out the best in Neal.

Batman and Deadman star in "You Can't Hide from a Deadman" which is written by Bob Haney and drawn by Neal Adams. Well, that's the story anyway, but I don't buy it for one minute because the Neal Adams Checklist on Neal's own site and my gut say this is Neal's work through and though. Now it is not that this checklist is all that accurate, as it only lists Neal as the writer and penciler of this story when he is obviously the inker as well, but my gut is pretty good on this stuff and this story so nicely wraps up the writing that Neal was doing on the Deadman strip in Strange Adventures, that I guess it is possible that Bob Haney did some of the dialog, but the plot has got to be Neal's.

This is Neal's eighth Brave and the Bold and his last of this run. Neal would draw one more full issue in a little over a year and finish up a Jim Aparo story a year or so later, but for all intents and purposes, this was the end of Neal's run as the regular penciler and it seems appropriate that he both began and ended his B&B run with Deadman.

It's just another night in Gotham as Batman and Robin break up an extortion racket, except that after mopping up the bad guys, Robin picks up a gun and tries to shoot Batman. Blinding the boy wonder with a smoke pellet saves Batman's hide and Robin strangely snaps out of it. When Commissioner Gordon and his men reach the scene Gordon uses an officer's service revolver to try and shoot Batman as well. Everyone is clueless, except Batman who has surmised that his "old friend Deadman is trying to kill me!"

Out on the street Batman runs a gauntlet of people suddenly possessed by Boston Brand's ghost and out to kill Batman. After almost being run over by a truck, Batman heads for the rooftops where Deadman will have a much harder time finding a host to possess. However Deadman finds a pigeon fancier and comes after Batman with a club. Batman tries to talk sense into Deadman, saying they are friends, but Deadman says he is trying to kill Batman. Batman's response is that Deadman is a liar and that he can prove it. "If you really want to kill me, do it the simple way...jump into my body and make me jump off the roof...clean and simple!" The logic of this causes Deadman to freak out and quickly exit the man's body.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong at the secret headquarters of the Society of Assassins, the Sensei is listening to a report from Willie Smith. Smith recounts how Deadman found his killer, the Hook and after confirming that he was dead, returned to Nanda Parbat seeking out Rama Kushna and the end of his unnatural existence. Deadman interfered with Smith's plan to destroy Nanda Parbat and thinking Smith dead, Deadman met with Rama Kushna. Afterward, Deadman chose to leave Nanda Parbat and return to being a ghost (a pretty good recap of Strange Aventures #215 and #216). As Deadman was leaving, Smith shot him with a poison dart, but because he was only partially corporeal at the time it did not kill him but left him dazed and susceptible to suggestion. Smith used the opportunity to turn Deadman's hatred of the Sensei into a hatred for Batman. With Deadman busy trying to kill Batman the Sensei sees this as the perfect time to once and for all destroy Nanda Parbat.

Back in Gotham Batman visits the Hills Bros. Circus where Boston's brother, Cleavland, has taken over the role of the trapeze artist Deadman. Boston enters his brother's body and once again takes to the high platform, where he attempts his famous quadruple somersault, only to find that his brother's muscles are not as supple as his once were and he is saved only by the intervention of Batman. Boston is more confused than ever now that Batman has saved his brother's life. Just then circus mystic Vashnu arrives to say that Rama Kushna wants Deadman to return to Nanda Parbat.

Batman and Deadman in his brother's body are shot at as they parachute over the Himalayas down to Nanda Parbat. Deadman leaves his brother's body and leaps into the body of his attackers, turning one against the other. Returning to Cleavland's body Deadman leads Batman to Nanda Parbat where upon entrance he leaves Cleve's body and becomes corporeal once again. But as he does so the poison from Willie Smith's dart takes affect and he collapses to the ground.

Rama Kushna appears and explains that Boston has been poisoned but that one of the men coming to attack Nanda Parbat carries an antidote. Batman and Cleve head out to stop the assault on Nanda Parbat and to find the antidote. Using a now arrived blinding snowstorm for cover they take out the Sensei's men one by one, till they finally get to Smith and retrieve the antidote. The Sensei challenges them both, but they ignore him and hurry back to Boston.

Once back in Nanda Parbat Batman uses the antidote to save the life of a Deadman. Boston realizes the absurdity of it all and that Nanda Parbat is the only place where he can be harmed and therefore decides to leave and become a ghost once more. The Sensei is seen trudging down the mountain plotting his revenge on Batman and Deadman.

This classic story has been reprinted in Best of DC #26, Deadman #7, Deadman Collection HC, Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 2 HC and Showcase Presents the Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Star Spangled War Stories #147

Star Spangled War Stories #147 (On Sale: August 19, 1969) has an Enemy Ace cover by Joe Kubert.

"A Grave in the Sky" is by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert and, my god, is Kubert on fire this issue. The story surrounds a British pilot who as a child was obsessed with the story of St. George and the Dragon. Years later he is still obsessed and sees the RAF as a way of attaining knighthood and flying a steed and using machine guns as his lance.

The delusional pilot wears the top half of a suit of armor when he flies and believes himself to be the reincarnation of St. George. As with all Enemy Ace stories, the real story is about the killer skies and the terrible strain leading men into battle is for Hans Von Hammer. It has some amazing Kubert artwork, bringing the aerial dogfights of Fokkers vs. Sopwith Camels to glorious life. Kubert in his early 40s at this time was a master of the brush for sure, but it is his amazing story-telling abilities that make these books come to life.

Suffice to say that in the end St. George is defeated by his own personal dragon, Hans von Hammer, the Enemy Ace. This story was reprinted in Enemy Ace Archives Vol. 2 HC and Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Friday, August 14, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- G.I. Combat #138

G.I. Combat #138 (On Sale: August 14, 1969) has a cover by Joe Kubert.

We began with The Haunted Tank in "The Losers" by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath. This is the first story of the Losers, the cover calls them the Born Losers, who would eventually take over Our Fighting Forces. The team consisted of Captain Storm, Johnny Cloud, Gunner and Sarge. This Losers origin story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Haunted Tank Vol. 2 TPB.

The back-up story "Bright Banner" was drawn by George Evans.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

My Strats

If you do happen to take the 3D walkthrough of my new studio, check out the furniture. Not all of the objects are hand-built by me, but a lot of them are. I am particularly proud of the two strats I have on the guitar stand. Those took a bit of work.

Friday, August 07, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Unexpected #115

Unexpected #115 (On Sale: August 7, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with "Diary of a Madman" by Carl Wessler and Ed Robbins. Some sources indicate that this was the last story Ed Robbins drew for DC, others say he drew some war stories in 1970 and 1971, but I haven't tracked those down yet. Robbins' last comic book work appears to be for Western in Grimm's Ghost Stories in 1975-76. Born in 1919 Ed Robbins died in 1982.

He was one of those guys who worked everywhere, but rarely made a name for himself. He worked at the Beck and Costanza Studio between 1942 and 1953, the Iger Studio in 53-54 and the Simon and Kirby Studio in 1955.

For Archie he drew Roy, the Super Boy, the Scarlet Avenger, The Shield, Steel Sterling and Zamboni, the Miracle Man. At Centaur he drew Craig Carter and the Masked Marvel. At Charlton he crime and war stories. At DC he drew Gang Busters in the 50s and horror, romance and war stories in the 1960s. At Dell he drew horror stories in the early 60s and at Feature Comics he drew romance stories during the late 50s. At Fawcett he drew romance comics for years along with Captain Marvel, the Marvel Family and Mary Marvel. In the 40s and 50s he work for Atlas/Marvel on the Black Avenger, the Human Torch, the Thunderer and assorted horror and war stories. He did one story for Warren in 1970.

If Ed Robbins ever made a name for himself though, it was during his two-years stint on the Mike Hammer newspaper strip in the 1950s, where his hard-boiled gutsy graphic style was years ahead of the British strips of the 60s, such as Jim Holdaway on Modesty Blaise and Yaroslav Horak on James Bond (I used to follow both of these strips in the wonderful Menomonee Falls Gazette in the 1970s).

Next we have "Abracadabra -- You're Dead" by Dave Wood, Curt Swan and Jack Abel. We end with "The Day Nobody Died" by Dave Wood, Werner Roth and Frank Giacoia. This story was reprinted in Unexpected #161.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

The New Studio

For going on five years now I have contemplated moving my home studio/office from the small bedroom it has been in to one about twice that size. I have planned meticulously for the day this can happen, and I do mean planned and it is all finally coming to fruition. I put a new drawing desk with a taboret and chair in there last year and moved one of my existing drawing boards in there last month. I moved my desk and computer into the room last weekend and have been moving bookcases and such each night since.

There is still one major piece of furniture (besides two large bookcases) which needs to be moved into the room, but that is the table/flat file cabinet I have been building in my woodworking class for the past seven months. However, it is all coming together and when completed it will look something like this:

You can see and walk through a 3D rendering of my studio if you like. I have been working with a shareware program, Room Arranger for five years now on this. Over that time Room Arranger has morphed from a room layout program to a fairly easy-to-use building designing package. Not on the level of the professional packages, by any means, but still worth having and purchasing.

The room is kind of a mess right now. Not all the book cases are in and there are a couple of pieces still in the room that need to be moved out. I have got to pare down the number of things I own!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Jury Duty

For the first time in my life they actually called me for jury duty this week. I spent most of the first day looking through old copies of the National Geographic Magazine and sketching any interesting faces I saw and reading Infinite Jest. In the afternoon of the first day I was called into a panel for selecting a jury. The case involved a residential burglary and the defendant was about my son's age and had similar issues. We spent the afternoon answering the judge's questions and the next morning answering those of the prosecutor and defence attorney. I was the first potential juror that the prosecutor dismissed. I think he though I would have too much identification and compassion for the defendant.

I think he was mistaken, but it was his call.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- House of Secrets #82

House of Secrets #82 (On Sale: August 5, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with "Realler Than Real" drawn by Werner Roth and Vince Colletta. Most sources list this as Werner Roth's first work for DC since his first pencil job in Secret Hearts #42 in 1957, but Jerry Bails' Who's Who of American Comic Books contains a long list of Roth work for DC romance books covering most of the 60s. This includes long runs on Falling In Love, Girls' Romances, Secret Hearts, Young Love and Young Romance.

Roth spent most of his early career at Atlas/Marvel, beginning in 1951 when he started drawing the Apache Kid. Roth was so good at drawing women that Atlas publisher Martin Goodman had a comic created just for him: Lorna, the Jungle Girl. His last work at Atlas was in Strange Tales in 1958 and he didn't return till 1965 when now Marvel needed an artist to replace Jack Kirby on the Uncanny X-Men. At Marvel, Roth sometimes used the pseudonym Jay Gavin. He would remain the X-Men penciler till 1969, when he would return to DC starting with this story. However, in the later half of the 60s and the early 70s Roth also worked on a number of Marvel's other book, including The Avengers, Sub-Mariner, GunHawk, Kid Colt, The Rawhide Kid and Werewolf By Night.

Werner Roth also worked at Dell Comics and drew Mandrake the Magician for King Comics and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for Western Publishing. He also worked for a time as an assistant on the On Stage newspaper strip.

In 1970 Roth became the penciler of Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, a book he would work on til his death in 1973 at the age of 52.

Next is "The Little Old Winemaker" drawn by Jack Sparling. We end with "The One and Only, Fully Guaranteed Super-Permanent, 100%?" by Marv Wolfman, Dick Dillin and Neal Adams. This last story was reprinted in House of Mystery #224 and Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol. 3 TPB, The entire book was reprinted in Showcase Presents: The House of Secrets Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Bears Are Back In Town

Twice in the past week the bears have hit my next-door neighbor's trash cans. Why they insist on keeping them outside I'll never figure out. Last night it was a round 10:3- when the thrashing of the large plastic containers began. I was in my new office with the window open, not 40 ft. from the cans. The audible assault lasted for about five minutes and when the bears left and crossed the street in front of my house it was a mother with a large bag of trash in her mouth followed by two very cute cubs, one of which stopped in the middle of the street to munch on some of mother's dropped goodies before travelling on. Some day I've got to get a picture of these three.