Monday, December 31, 2007

"Final 2007 Comments"

And here it is the final day of 2007. My, my "how time et all".

Didn't make it back to my comic shop before the end of the 20% off sale this month so I simply gave my mom the extra cash I had saved up, paying it on the pick up truck I bought from her. Figured she could use it more than I.

I did, however, use the "Buy It Now" option to pick up some comics I "wanted" (not that I really needed them, but they interested me). The set I bought was of AC Comics Americomics #'s 1 thru 4 & Special #1 (from the 1980's). You may remember me talking about how I always liked their title, FemForce and that this company had actually been the one to revive the "Blue Beetle" character before DC got hold of the Charton rights. Well, not only did AC do a BB story in Americomics #3 (also starring the original Golden Age, Fox, later Charlton, BB) , but united four different Charlton heroes in the pages of their Americomics Special #1 (1983), those being "Captain Atom, The Blue Beetle, The Question & Nightshade". This was the first app.'s of Blue Beetle and Captain Atom since issues 1 & 7 of the 80's Charlton title, Charlon Bulleye V2 (which the first volume was an in-house fanzine of this company, publishing otherwise, UNpublished CA stories and the like), and it predates DC Comics' acquisition of the Charlton rights by a couple of years when they became part of the storyline in Crisis of Infinite Earths.

AC had a knack for reviving several GA type characters, or ones closely resembling such, with versions of The Phantom Lady, The Black Terror, Captain 3-D, and others. Bill Black did a pretty decent job with that company during its exisitence. And sometime in the future I need to pick me up the final issue (#6) of Americomics and a decent replacement for my #5 (since it's condition is "the pits").

In other news...

Yet another odd 70's DC Kirby book I've won is this Kobra #1 (actually, I just need a #7 to complete this esoteric title), and from the same seller, this This "reader copy" S-Age Marvel comic (just 'cause I always thought it had a classic cover).

I think my comic book collecting goal for 2008 will be to finally finish the DC 70's Kirby books, and then concentrate on the Moore issues of Swamp Thing, since I always like to try to find comics that I know I'll like.

So, here's to all my friends and readers and otherwise who have visited on "Elmo's junction", wishing you all only the best in the upcoming year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

"They Say It's Stan's BIRTHDAY!"

On this day in 1922, Stan ("The Man") Lee was born, making this, today, his 85th. Birthday!

Soooossss......"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STAN LEE!" I hope it's the best one yet! (You still do the best 5 second cameos in Marvel flicks!)

Hoowah! Got in my copy of DC's 1st. Issue Special #5 (1975) yesterday, which not only completes that set of 13 issues, but is also a 70's DC Kirby comic I didn't have. This is actually the second DC character in the 1970's to bear that name, the other being Walt Simonson's which ran in several issues of Detective Comics (#'s 437-443 from 1973-74). Kirby's version is more like the one you later saw in Green Lantern (whereas Simonson's version was more of a costumed vigilante).

And yesterday I was hoping to do several things I that I really wanted to, but ended up doing several things that I really needed to instead.

For instance, I didn't get back to my comic shop for their December 20% back issue sale, nor did I get a chance to take my 18" t.v. over to the repair man to work on (and yes, my eyes are indeed squinting from looking at that 9" screen on the replacement I'm using).

Instead I started the day with removing the old battery from the pick up truck because I never could get it to take a charge, and hauling that down to the parts store where they tested it and found that, sure enuff, it was dead (probably a bad cell). However, since it was a 4 Year battery and this one was only 25 months old I got quite a nice rebate and it cost me about half what a new one would have. I took that back and reinstalled it into the truck and viola! Once more that's up and running.

Then I took down my mom's Christmas decorations and packed them up and toted that back to her basement for a year's storage. This took at least an hour and a half.

Coming back home I went to the store for a few things, then came back and cleaned the ever-present "cat box"; a major job since it seems that when my cat wishes to take a whiz he has rotten aim. It also entails having to pretty much clean the whole floor where the box resides, sweeping, moping, and washing out the litter pan, etc., etc. All of this took a bit over a half and hour.

Then I went down to the nursing home and took down the decorations and tree from dad's room and packaged those up and brought them back for storage, and stopped and got mom's medicine, and's just been a pretty full day.

Since I have just Saturday off before next week and the end of this month, I have only one more chance to get back to the comic shop. The t.v. will have to wait anyway due to the repair shop not being open on the weekend.(December 28th.,2007).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"Christmas, and Looking Back"

And Christmas is over for 2007. Here within a week we'll be into the New Year of 2008.

I really didn't get anything I actually wanted for Christmas this year. I thought I had hinted around enough with my wife this time for that 4 DVD boxed set of the Chris Reeve "Superman" flicks, but instead I was loaded down with clothing. Not that that wasn't anything I didn't need.

Between her and mom I got a new pair of dress shoes (something I didn't have at all after my good shoes were mysteriously eaten by this house!), two, long-sleeved pull overs (one with the Beatle's "Hard Days Night" movie designs), two pairs of sleep pants, a pair of lined gloves, a new pair of jeans and a nice fleece coat. So with the good bonus this year at work, IF I don't get back to my comic shop before their December sale ends, I may just use part of that and buy that Supes flick set for myself.

Looking back at this year I see a lot of stuff that's gone on. It began with my father-in-law finally having to go into the hospital from his cancer, and then shortly there after in April, my own dad ending up in a nursing home due to his alzheimers. And then, in May, my F-I-Law passed away, making both Thanksgiving and Christmas a bit meloncholy (especially for my wife).

The only outdoors project I got finished this year was the pouring of a new walkway out to the sidewalk (which I may still have to redo a bit come Spring and I feel like buying morwe bags of "quik-crete" and trying to level that more so) plus I finally got around to enclosing the back of the house where we had a screen-in room just to cover up the mess of my wife's craft stuff. Not positive just "what" outdoor projects I'll do in 2008 to this place. Might try to trim a bunch of these trees myself. We do plan on putting a new roof of some sort on this house next year (probably ALL metal).

We went through an extremely dry and hot Summer here in South-Central, Kentucky, to finally have all of the wetness given back to us in spades this Autumn.

My F-I-Law's estate was sold at auction in September, but that still hasn't been settled enough for my wife to receive her inheritance.

I lost an old aquaintance a couple of months ago that was younger than myself to his various illnesses. And another even older aquaintance ended up receiving a 5 year prison term because he never was able to "grow up" enough to know that drugs will eventually destroy everything you ever had: family, friends, your life, your health, your home and finances. I thank God I was smart enough to get out of that scene a good 30 years ago and straighten up before it was too late.

Collecting-wise, I finally finished the 4 major Jack Kirby sets of his 4th.World titles from DC in the 1970's plus other books he did, but still need a little more than a dozen various issues to complete the sets of everything he did for DC during that time.

My own health has been just so-so this year, but both my elderly mother and my wife's health has remained constant.

And I'm sure that if I looked back over my year's worth of blogging in 2007, I could find a whole lot more the recall, but it's been a long year and I'm tired. This holiday seems to have taken a lot out of me as well as the year in whole, both in my home AND my work existence.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

"The Eve of The Eve, and Fred"

I was finally able to get all of the comics that I had saved from various lot deals lot into some sort of alphabetical order and all of the remaining ones in boxes and stored. Now I have just what I really want to keep in my comic book collection, and once again, I have a "secondary" collection of a few boxes that at some future date (when I have the time and energy) I'll put back in order with the prime long boxes.

While going thru those misc. comics I did decide to pull my issues of AC Comics Fem Force just because I always liked reading those. AC Comics is most closely associated with Bill Black, who on his own is sort of a semi-pro artist, but he did put out several interesting titles and even managed to snag a few pros to do various covers and obtained the property rights for some well known icons such as Roy Rogers and Lash Larue.

Although DC wishes to ignore the fact, AC even revived the Charlton hero, "The Blue Beetle" for a couple of issues back in the 1980's after Charlton folded and before DC got hold of him
The Fem Force series is composed of various super-powered women, all of which you would recognize as revamped Golden Age characters such as "The Phantom Lady", "The Black Cat", or any one of several various jungle girls (most notably published by Fox in the 1940's).

Above is the cover to one such issue that was a special telling the "untold origin" of this team, and it's not bad even though nothing spectacular, it had a readable storyline and acceptable artwork by different artists. (One thing was for certain with FemForce is that there was always plenty of "T&A" shots of the heroines.)

And today here on "the eve of the eve" I went in at noon and just had a 5 hour work day. Even so we were pretty swamped all of that time and probably did more than any single day of the year since...well....last year. Just one more shopping day to go and it'll be all over except the crying for those retailers who really took a whoppin' this year. I've read that there were many retailers that went into the hole this time due to the economy, and they were forced to price their merchandice at times even below what they paid for it to avoid closing shop. (That's pretty sad.)

Not sure if I'm going to get back to my local comic shop before their 20% off back issues sale ends this month but I sure hope so. It's a case with me this time of actually having some extra cash to spend, but not the time to do so.

And...on ANOTHER NOTE...

Over on Fred Hembeck's blog site on his December the 5th. post he talked about his Omnibus which reprints just globs and globs of his great artwork over the years. And, he has a link, which is Thus of an interview with him. In this interview various fans expressed their delight or dismay of his work, but one in particular really erked me when I read it.

It was from a person who went to a comic convention and got a lot of artists there to do free sketches on a page, but Fred wouldn't do one unless the person paid him ten bucks for it. This person said he lost a lot of respect for Fred that day.

Tell ya how I feel about that.

Get over it.

One of the main reasons that I don't submit free artwork to fanzines and or the small press or the like much anymore is because all one ever gets for the sweat and tears and toil (IF they're lucky) is a freebie copy of whatever zine it gets published in; NO cash gratuity at all. And after the approximately 40 years that I've done such artwork, you know, it'd really be nice to see a little compensation for my work in appreciation. If a person thinks it's good enough to print in their little pubs, then they should also be willing to pay something for it.

It's not that I haven't personally asked many a soul to contribute to some odd project I was doing myself with only the compensation for their time and work being to retain the copyrights to the piece and a free copy of the 'zine. But also, I've stated that I could always use a photocopy rather than the original, and even at times have offered to pay for said piece. In fact, I personally own a nice piece of Fred's work. And yes; I paid for it. Fred's a pro. I don't expect him to do something for free. So, if you want some nice original or whatever artwork, then pull out your wallet you cheap bastards and give those people you admire some cash. They don't expect you to come to their house and work for nothing.

And, by the way Fred, I'm STILL wondering what the devil the word: jem is all about at the top left of your blog page???

Friday, December 21, 2007

"Reviews and news"

The latest issue of DC's The Brave & The Bold (#8) was certainly a disapointment for this old fan of "The Doom Patrol". Not that George Perez's artwork wasn't his usual great stuff, but I really didn't care for the way he and Mark Waid portrayed the characters. They've played "Rita" like some sort of buffoon and made "The Chief" look like he's just some totally uncaring and obsessed scientist. I'd just as well they not do any future issues ever starring this team if that's the way they plan on showing them.

Well today it's been raining (again). What we lacked in Summer we have now gone over-board with as the first day of Winter approaches, and personally I'm pretty sick of all this wetness. Driving to and from work in it, plus having to do work outside at times in it at my job, and then not being able to get anything constructive done on my days off due to it if it's outside work. Such as today.

My good friend, Steve, came down to visit me from Hodgensville, bringing some comics that interested me, and he looked through many boxes of what I consider "stock" and we did a trade, and afterwards he was planning to drive on down to Bowling Green. I feel for him because it was only maybe an hour after he left here that the rain began again.

And today as well I was going to take all of this stock on down and store it at my mom's and get me a little room here in my pc room where it's all stacked, only to now put that off until my next day off from work (Tuesday) and attempt same again. I have to get these boxes out of my way so I can bring other boxes into the room and that would give me the space to look thru yet "other" boxes to see what I still wish to weed out and trim down from my collections.

At least now the weather report is saying that perhaps we'll only get an inch or less of snow tonight, which will please me like punch as I hate snow anyway and would just as well not see any this year at all.

In other news, I used the "Buy It Now" option today on eBay to purchase a cheap copy of DC's 1970's title 1st. Issue Special (#5), which was the final issue I needed to complete that set, as well as yet another bronze-age DC comic that was drawn by Jack Kirby. I'm finally getting the DC 70's Kirby collection about completed, having picked up a copy of Sandman #4 (1975) recently, completing that set as well. There's still some books I've got to get to round that one out, most notably the other issues I still need of Black Magic (the 70's reprint issues), a 1970's Boy Commandoes #2, etc., plus the two magazines Kirby did: In the Days of the Mob, and Spirit World. I'm not sure just what collection I'll work on next, but it'll more than likely be trying to finish off my Swamp Thing sets, with a cut-off at ST V2 #64 (the final Alan Moore issue).

Oh yes, the comics I got today in trade were full sets of Charlton's Go-Go (1-9) and Reptilicus/Reptisaurus (1-8 & '63 Spec.Ed., from 1961-63). Reptilicus was a movie adaptation of the B-Grade flick from the early 1960's and the title ran two issues until it changed to Reptisaurus. Reptilicus #1 came out at the same time as Charlton's Konga #1, and was the third of their "monster" title (with Gorgo being Charlton's first one).

The Go-Go's (1966-67) are just plain fun! The first two issues feature "Beatles' app.'s", but every issue had some sort of photo pin-ups of singing groups from that time, such as "The Byrds", "Sonny & Cher", "The Lovin' Spoonful", "The Monkees", etc. In fact, I discovered two new silver-age Beatles' mentions in #6 of Go-Go and have noted them over on my "Beatles & Bizarros" blog site!)

And there are parodies of the JLA (called The "Bestest League of America", as well as "Blooperman" and even one of Batman & Robin, and some of the Marvel super heroes. Topped off with some great fave fanwork by the likes of Richard "Grass" Green makes this title very memorable.

Another thing Steve brought down for me was a copy of a 2005 "White Castle" comic giveaway called: White Castle Goes MAD, which, according to this little 12 giveaway, was one of two issues, although this is the first one I'd ever seen. Pretty neat, really. It has several panels by Peter Bagge, a page by Al Jaffee, some work by Aragones, plus a "Spy VS. Spy" cover and one page gag and even a one page "Fantastic Four" parody. I'd be interested in seeing/obtaining the other one sometime. And he brought me back two pieces of my own artwork from circa 1971, one of which was approx. 8-1/2" by 11" and the other quite large (24" x 18"), both in oils and on canvas boards. I must admit to completely forgetting that I had done either piece since these are now 37 years old. It was strange looking at these and evaluating how very much my work has changed since the time I was a mere 20 year old. The larger one I had titled: "Six Against Minotaur", and shows the back of the villian with six various DC heroes about to attack him (with a dock, river, and city skyline in the background). I must say that my choices for the misc. heroes was a little odd, for they included "Hawk & The Dove", "Brother Power The Geek", "The Creeper", and "Captain Action & Action Boy". About the only connection I could get from that piece is that I really liked Gil Kane's artwork as it was the one factor (sans "Brother Power") all of these heroes had in common. It looks "okay' for that era of my life (except that I drew "Hawk" with a monkey face, LOL!).

The smaller piece I had titled: "Confronting The Demon", and this time, a barbarian's back was towards you and a lobster-clawed, green-faced, horned demon was rising into the air towards him in a lightning-lit night sky. And that's about all I can say about that. Definately not my greatest moment art-wise, and shows the influence barbarian-type paperbacks had on me which I read quite a lot of back then.
(Saturday: 12-15-07)

Well, we lucked out and didn't get even a good dusting of snow here this morning, but it sure is colder than old penquin sh*t. Fortunately this isn't supposed to last but a day or two and by Tuesday, my next day off, it's supposed to be clear and dry so maybe then I can finally get a chance to get a few things done around this place that ensues being outside. Like loading up all of those boxes of "stock" and taking them to storage, bringing parts of my real collections into the pc room again so I can have some room to get into all of the other boxes and go thru them to pull out any excess books I don't want to keep, and, just maybe, give me room to once again set up my artboard (rather than use a lap-type).

Work was busy today, but not really all that hectic as one might expect being the shopping season and all. There were three of us from noon on, and we were able to handle all of the customers quite well and even get out on time. While walking around the store I even managed to write up about five pages of stock to be pulled from the warehouse tomorrow. I wrote up so much stuff in fact that I finally just quit doing that since I'll never get it all pulled anyway.

And, I finally remembered to stop by a store on the way home and pick up some gift bags as well to put Christmas presents in and plan on doing that after while. I think maybe I've got all of the stuff I'll be buying for family finished this year.(Sunday: 12-16-07)

To All My Liberal Acquaintances:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To My Friends:

Merry Christmas (or, whatever), Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!

P.S.: (By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.)Friday:12-20-07

Today at work was the most hectic I've seen for a while with those last minute Christmas shoppers. Thank goodness there's only three more shopping days left (actually, just two for me since I'm off tomorrow).

But I certainly won't get any rest. I'll need to once more get back up on the roof and search for the area that's causing a leak into my kitchen before it ruins the wood under the shingles. It's already causing some mold that I'll have to clean up now, and really, the whole ceiling will need a repaint job. I'll be glad when we can afford to have a whole new roof but on this place.

And today is the last day of Autumn, 2007, with tomorrow being the shortest day of the year.(12-21-07)

Friday, December 14, 2007

"My Questions Answered!"

In my last blog I asked the question regarding whatever happened to that story which would have been in Swamp Thing V1 #25 where ST battles "Hawkman" had the title not ceased publication with #24. So's....I went to Wickipedia to see what it had regarding the character and its history.

By clicking the name link and reading their information it'll give you a more concise report, but, here it is in a nut shell.

That story ended up as the basis for Swamp Thing ("Saga of") V2 #58. Now there was another question I had regarding how "Alec Holland" went back to being the ST again, after he was left as a human with V1 #24.

And, according to that Wickipedia report, he reverted back to being ST due to not taking certain biochemicals which kept him not murky. And this was all "explained" within the pages of DC's Challengers of the Unknown #83.

Of course, when Alan Moore took over the second ST series he changed ST's origin, and even told everyone to just ignore the events of the closing issues of ST V1 and pretend that #'s 21 thru 24 of that series never existed/happened.

In other words...just another screwup in a characters continuity, but one I can forgive with the par excellant writings of Moore.

Speaking of which, I got in those 19 misc. comics all written by Moore that I recently won on auction. They consisted of two various issues of Eclipse Comics' "Miracle Man" (#'s 3 & 6) and 17 issues of V2 of ST (#'s 24,26 thru 36, 38 thru 42, missing the "Constantine" keys). Lots of good reading, or, I should say, RE-reading ahead for me. In fact, I've already read the MM's, which were even better the second (or maybe, third) time around). I think about as complete as I'd like to have collections of ST would be the 1-24 run of V1, the Challengers' issues (83-87), a couple of issues of DC Presents and Brave & Bold app.'s, and a run probably no later than #64 (last Moore issue) of V2 (although I do have several already after that number, as well as most of V3), and Annual 2. (I'm not sure if I even want an original copy of House of Secrets #92 again. It'd certainly have to be a lower-grade one that I could buy dirt-cheap. Not that it's not a great comic, what with Wrightson and all, but it's not really the version or actually the same character as first appearing in ST V1 #1. I've got a reprint, so that's probably what I'll stick with.) I have maybe 1/2 of those already.

Off work tomorrow, but rain and sleet predicted weather-wise, and even the chance of snow on Saturday night which may make driving to work Sunday morning a hassle. Oh yes. Winter IS here, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Comics, and The Bagge-Man"

Today I want to wish that krazy cartoonist-writer, Peter Bagge a very happy 50th. Birthday(born in 1957)! I'm afraid it's all downhill from here on in, Pete!

And today this post is all about comics. I went to my regular comic book shop since all back issues are 20% off marked prices this month and surprizingly only spent around $35. (although there was much more I could have grabbed). Even so, I got what I felt was a nice handful of bargains, and a few items from my real "want lists".

For one thing, I found a nice copy of Action #340(DC/1966) which is the of one of Supes' most deadly foes, "The Parasite"! This also has a Supergirl backup by Mooney, a two-page centerfold poster of Superman by Curt Swan, and the cover's topped off with those ever=lovin' "Go-Go Checks".

And there's a copy of Swamp Thing V1 #3(DC/1973) & 24 (the last issue of V1 from 1976). #3 is, of course, Wrightson artwork and is the first app. of "Abilgail", plus the origin of "The Patchwork Man". #24 advertised that the next issue ST would teampup with "Hawkman", but to my knowledge, this was never published? (If anyone with contradictory info on that it'd be appreciated!)

Then there's a Sandman #4 (DC/1975) with Jack Kirby art, and the only issue I needed to complete that bronze-age run of 6 issues.

Next, a copy of Superman #235(DC/1971) which was the last issue I needed in the pseudo-Superman storyline which began in #233, and sporting what appears to be, a Neal Adams cover.

In newer books I picked up the latest Brave & The Bold (#8/DC) which is a teamup between The Flash, and my all-time fave, "The Doom Patrol"! And I got the latest Justice League of America (#15/DC) which concludes the battle with the new version of the "In"Justice League.

In their 49 cent boxes, some gems were to be found. A copy of DC's Young Romance #178(a DC 25 cent Giant from 1972), a Date With Debbie #10 (DC/1970), a Super Goof #33 (1975/Gold Key, and battling the evil "Phantom Blot"!), and nine misc. issues of Marvel's wacky title, Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham by Marvel (all from the mid-1980's) The earliest of this title was a #6 with good ol' Fred Hembeck art! So, as you can see, it was a good "comic book day" for me.

And now, I want to get back to my previous post where I put that cover of Superman #170 (1964) "up for show", as re-reading that story from the early silver-age and thinking about it, I just had to laugh about the whole thing.

Of course, it was one of those silly DC "Imaginary Tales' from that time, and it began with Lex Luthor using a device that makes him into a giant so he could escape prison. He then hatches this scheme to go back in time before Krypton blew up and win Lara's heart (Supe's mom) away from Jor-El, and her to marry HIM, so when he returned to Earth in that present time, Superman wouldn't try to hassle with him since then he'd be his dad! Now, I grant you...that's pretty silly enough. He fails in this attempt and returns to the present time in a Kryptonian rocket ship, and wearing Kryptonian clothing, NEITHER of which Superman seems to take any notice save that he was glad to recapture Luthor and put him back in prison.

What made me really laugh about this, tho'? In the story, Lex is imagining (yes, he's imagining within an "imaginary" story, and since it's a comic book that's imagining within an imagining with an imagining!) that he's already married to Lara and they've had a son which he's telling her he'll save by sending to Earth. But...the child still looks like "Kal-El"! That is to say, he doesn't look like a son of Lex and Lara, but one of Jor-El and Lara! Heh! Looks like that sly, ol' Jor-El slipped one in on Lara before she and he broke up! (Those promiscuous Kryptonians! LOL!)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"End of the Week Catch-Up"

One of the greatest illustrators of the 20th. Century, was Gustaf Tenggren (1896-1970). He illustrated many a classic tale of mythology, several well-known children's books, and was an animation designer for the Disney Studios (being one of the main artists on the classic Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs). So you can imagine my delight when I found a discarded library copy of Robert Wagner's The Ring of The Nibelung (a Nordic tale that perhaps you're only familiar with from reading graphic novel adaptations with the likes of artists such as Gil Kane, or Craig Russell).

Taking my mother back to her job at the local public library recently, she told me that all of the books they had had on sale there (discarded older copies which hadn't been checked out in several years) were now FREE for the taking. I drudged through probably a dozen boxes of various old hardcovers, mostly juvenille fiction, passing on adventures of "Donna Dixon" and the like, and then...there it was: a 1932 copy of The Ring of The Nielung, missing only its original dust jacket and a blank front page where they had removed the old library card, but otherwise complete and with title pages. What wonderful ink drawings (a total of a dozen) awaited me inside of mythic Nordic gnomes and gods! It just proves that treasures such as these can still be found, and I was more than glad to save this precious one from being tossed aside.

The above illustration of "Wotan" is from this book, and, if you are not familiar with Tenggren's work, please do click onto the name link to see some beautifully rendered artwork. You might even be surprized to find a book from your own childhood that you didn't realize was illustrated by this master.

And I guess I should say, "I'm sorry" for not proof reading my last post very well. I just quickly scanned over it seeing if I screwed up anything major and let it go due to the lack of time I had to finish it, and then after it was posted and I got to RE-reading the thing I spotted numberous typos and misspellings. So many mistakes in fact that I went back with a dictionary and spell-checked the entire post! It may still not be totally correct, but it definately IS easier to understand now, so for those who read it before, you may want to go back and RE-read it again.

Something I forgot to add to those notations regarding those trips to the Christian youth get-togethers in Louisville, was that the next year (1965, and the last such thing I ever was forced to endure), instead of stopping at a "Glass House" on I-65, we stopped on the way back at some grocery mart while the minister filled up his car with gas, and they had a comic spinner rack there. Now, in Louisville, the distributors got the new comic books to the racks a week ahead of us down here, so there was a LOT of new books I hadn't seen yet. I remember that I bought either 2 or 3 new comics, and the only one that sticks out in my mind was a copy of The Avengers #17 where the new hero lineup of that team was fighting some villian called "The Minotaur". It was right after the new Avengers lineup had been introduced in #16, and before "The Swordsman" came on the scene. By then I had started buying ALL of Marvel's hero and western books each month (having previously only bought then eractically). I can remember which issues most were that I bought with regularity as them being that first issue until about the middle of 1970, and they were: Fantastic Four #39, X-Men #10, Tales of Suspense #65, Tales to Astonish #67, The Avengers #15, The Amazing Spider-man #24, Daredevil #7, Sgt. Fury #17, Journey into Mystery with Thor #116, Strange Tales #133, and...I forget which westerns or other titles, and I also remember buying magazines such as "Monsters To Laugh With" and "The Advs. of Pussycat". Oddly enuff, I can not remember which DC Comics' titles I started with (the particular #, that is); probably due to the large number of comics they produced back then compared to the smaller number of different ones that Marvel did. But I'd say that I bought ALL action hero, western, & war titles by DC, Marvel, Charlton, Archie, etc., etc. beginning with either the March or April, 1965 issues from each company.

I had to mow many a Summer yard and beg many a quarter from my folks to retain such a habit, which is "why' I sought out so many others that bought comics and did trades (mostly with my dups). One bad trade I made one time was 100 misc. comics for an old, cheap guitar around 1966 that I "thought" I could learn how to play. Brother, was I ever a chump! (12-05-07)

On this date in 1980, John Lennon died.

Today has been a messy one with an ice-cold rain for the better part of the day with a little mix of sleet. Thankfully the temperatures have been well up above freezing to make it a real mess, but it's a sure sign of worse weather to expect this winter, I'm afraid.

Got off early today and came home and worked on seperating out box-after-box of comics that I didn't sell on on-line auctions, and getting them all in one area for a friend to look through this next week. I ended up with 15 boxes of "stuff'. What he doesn't want I'm taking and storing away from my main collections. In fact, I may just go back thru all of the other boxes and see just what else could be pulled and try to get this comic book collection down to a reasonable size to deal with. I've probably pulled at least 2000 comics, and I'd really like to double that amount as I need the space around here. And since my inventory list is shot all to hell anyway, I'm eliminating it altogether and relying solely on a "want list' of sorts. No more large "lot" deals for me ever again unless it deals only with bronze age or before books of interest, or titles with really good artists/writers.

I'm off tomorrow (Sunday). Maybe a little time to relax. (12-08-07)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"A Lotta Stuff"

You might wonder what the two above comics have in common. Well...not much, save that they were both published in the earlier part of the 1960's.

But these are a couple that I've won here recently from on line auctions, and there were reasons I wanted them back into my collections again.

The Superman #170 is from 1964, and yes, again I'll have to get into a long-winded tale from my youth. When I was a kid, from as early on as I can recall until I was at least 18 years old, my mother tried to drum religion into my head by having me sit on a pew anytime our local Christian Church had its doors open. That included Sunday school and church as well as the youth meeting and church services on Sunday night, Wednesday night prayer meetings, vacation Bible school, etc., etc., and once a year we had this Christian youth meeting day in Louisville, Ky., where a couple of volunteers (usually one of which was the minister) would herd all of us young folk into a couple or three vehicles and haul our ungodly asses up to the Christian College there.

Then there'd be a fellowship meeting for at least a couple of hours and a service of sorts, and finally a picnic and softball game held out in Iroquois Park. Somewhere along the way they'd stop at a store so we could get a Coke or candy bar or what-have-you on the way back home. I went to at least two such of these, one in June of 1964 and the other in the same month of '65, and they'd always be in that first weekend or so after school let out for the Summer.

On the way back home from the first said occasion we stopped at "The Glass House". This was a restaurant, truck stop type of thing that was in the center medium of the Interstate 65 HWY, and there were two of them as I recall (although both have long since been torn down). One just right above (or below) Elizabethtown, Ky., and the other at about Shepherdsville (just 12 miles or so South of Louisville).

Well of course I bought comic books in 1964 and that's the first thing I looked for in The Glass House, which they had but in one of these upright vending machines with a glass front for viewing the various titles. And they were an outrageous 25 cents each! My Lord! That was TWICE what I always paid for a comic book anywhere else! But there it was begging my eyes to look it over, a copy of Superman #170 with an imaginary tale of what things in the DCU would have been like had Lex Luthor been Superman's father. Yes, I just could not resist it. I eagerly stuck that sole quarter I had into the machine and pushed the button.

Now...I don't really remember a whole lot about that comic today, save outside of that particular story revolving obtaining it originally, but I do recall that it had that President Kennedy Tribute Tale as the opening feature; a story that had previously been slated for publication before Kennedy's assassination in 1963 and DC had shelved. They decided to go ahead and run it in the late president's honor, and it was about Superman trying to get everyone involved in JFK's physical fitness program. I can remember the splash page of a symbolic Kennedy in the background and Superman flying past The White House, and one panel it seems of Clark Kent faking being exhausted from doing exercise. I can't really recall the feature tale at the moment, but I'm sure that all of that will come back to me whenever this comic gets here. The neat thing about the issue I won (which isn't the above as these are scans I swiped) is that it has a date stamp on the front cover of June 8, which is probably just about the time I would have gotten that first copy.

Now the second cover to Strange Tales #114 means something totally different to me. I first bought this comic off the stands in 1963. The image of "Captain America" drew me to this cover, and it may very possibly have been the first time I'd ever seen what the character looked like, since I was 12 years old at that time. (The copy I won unfortunately is a "bottom-feeder" and not in anywhere as good a shape of the above pictured.)

Jack Kirby, who started the artwork on "The Human Torch" series in Strange Tales, had returned to draw this story due to it being about his and Joe Simon's Golden Age creation. Naturally, I didn't know all of that back then. I just thought the guy in the blue and red with wings on his cowl and a shield was pretty neat! Turns out over the years that this was a real turning point in Marvel's Silver Age history.

The character was really not Cap, but an earlier Torch villian called "The Acrobat", who was using the good Captain's image and name to be a thief. The Torch finally captures him, and as the scene closed on that story we see "Johnny Storm" sitting there, reading an old GA copy of Captain Ameria Comics, and wondering whatever became of the real "CA"? Yes; it was a try-out story to see what the reader's response to the hero would be and if Marvel should bring him back into the "present day", as they'd done with versions of their other big-time 1940's heroes, "Sub-Mariner" and "The Human Torch".

Oddly enough, the cover date is the same month as the assassination of JFK.

What this comic means to me today is a close on the foundations of the creation of the Marvel Universe. By this time, Marvel had established pretty much all of their well-known characters, save for one, "Daredevil". Iron Man had gotten rid of his clumsy golden armor into a sleek, red version, Giant-Man had replaced Ant-Man, The Hulk's original 6 issue run was over, "Tales of Asguard" had already begun as a back-up in Journey Into Mystery with THOR, the first Fantastic Four Annual had been published as well as the LAST Strange Tales Annual, Millie the Model had been changed from a humor format to that of a soap opera storyline, the fantasy stories by Heck, Kirby and Ditko (primarily) were gone (if not completely), and soon most of the major Marvel characters would receive thier own series in various titles. Soon Iron Man would have to share Tales of Suspense with Captain America; Giant-Man would share Tales to Astonish with The Hulk. The "age of innocence" was disappearing as Kenndy died and a scant 4 months later, The Beatles appear and Marvel's last great SA creation, Daredevil, hits the stands, and the real Captain America is reintroduced in the pages of The Avengers #4.

This issue marks the beginning of "Dr. Srange" in his own series as well after a two issue hiatus from the title, and is his third appearance. Thus closed the first stage of Marvel in the 1960's; a stage which would last until 1968 when many of their old titles would change and reappear in numbering continuity as solo books of The Hulk, Thor, and Dr. Strange and Captain America, and other characters such as Iron Man and Sub-Mariner would get completely new comics of their own. And you'll notice too that a LOT of Marvel got much more "serious" after 1963.

Getting along here to other things...

Our t.v. set started going out on us last night. It'd started having these problems a couple of weeks ago, where it'd just suddenly go off, then a few minutes later, come right back on. I'd say something in it's over-heating and shorting it out, and then when it cools off, starts working again. But last night it started doing that every few minutes. So finally I unconnect and unplug the thing and haul it into my pc room (as if I needed yet something else in the way in here) and brought my smaller 10" sceen w/built-in VCR into the living room and hooked it up. It's okay and watchable even with the smaller screen. Soon I'll have to just break down and go get us another set. We've had this one for quite some time, and within the next couple of years we'd have to replace it anyway due to the reformating of digital signals which will make older sets usable only for just playing games, DVDs and tapes.

And, speaking of t.v....This morning I was watching "Good Morning America" and they were going to have this segment on the mummified dinosaur remains found back in '99 in South Dakota. Didn't get to watch it though as my mom called right before that and wanted me to follow her to her local mechanic and drive her back home because of a light that kept coming on saying her engine was over-heating (which is probably just a sensor going bad). I was going to wait and do that AFTER the GMA report, but first they took a break and the local station gave a weather report, then they gave an updated local news report, then they came back and gave a long-range weather forecast, then there was about 20 commercials before finally they got back to GMA. Which, instead of giving the dinosaur report, started jabbering on about Christmas lights and other non-interesting things until I finally just asked my wife to let me know what all had been said about it. Anyway...this is a major dinosaur discovery which will change so much about what we "think" we know about them. Previously, the most all sceintists have ever had to go on about dinosaurs were skeletal remains and the few occasional fossilized skins imprints. This mummiified one shows patterns of scales, a different formation of hind leg muscles and even indications of striped patterns. This coming weekend there's going to be a National Geographic Special about this amazing discovery, so check your local listings!

And I finished watching the third installment of "Tin Man" on the SCIFI Channel last night, which I thought, over-all, was pretty good. A real interesting rethinking of the Oz storylines (but I'm sure that a lot of Oz fans will hate since all they've ever taken time to watch is that over-played musical shown every Thanksgiving).

So, finally, to my Jewish readers, I hope you have a very nice Hanukkah!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Moving Into the Last month of '07"

What a day.

Overslept a bit this morning. Meant to get up a 7AM and didn't make it until nearly 8:30. Woke up with my synuses killing me and a headache. Finally took a naproxin sodium tab and an aspirin and got to feeling better.

At least I got up in time to watch episodes of both "The Legion of Super-Heroes", and "Batman". It's been a while since I'd seen either one, but both impressed me more than previously viewed episodes. TLOSHs has been a bit retooled. They've got a new opening sequence and the character designs have been redone. They appear a little more serious than from the first episodes I'd seen. Superman looks a little older and the redesign on Braniac 5 looks decent. This was an episode where Supes and the Legion go to his "Fortress of Solitude", and Superman ends up in the shrunkened & bottled city of Kandor, where its inhabitants are all welcoming him, thinking he's return to make good on his promise to finally enlargen the city back to its original size.

For those not really familiar with this story, waaayyy back in Action 242 (1959) Superman first meets up with a space villian called "Braniac", who has this "10th. level mind", and has been going around shrinking cities off of various planets and putting them into bottles. He shrinks Metropolis, and all of its inhabitants as well including Superman, who eventually even at his diminished size, is able to re-enlarge all of the cities except Kandor. He makes the decision to sacrafice himself being unskrunk to restore that city as well, but the people of Kandor send out a spaceship that hits the enlargening button and makes Supes "large" again. (Kandor, you might recall, was the capitol of Krypton, and up until this time Superman thought he was Krypton's lone surviuvor.)

Superman takes the bottled city to his Fortress for safety and vows to one day be able to replicate Braniac's enlargening ray and restore the city.

This actually happened in Superman comics on two occasions. The first time was in Superman #158,(1963), when a group of rebels from Kandor used a small amount of a very rare element to enlargen themselves and take matters into their own hands. They discovered that Superman had made such an enlargening ray but wouldn't use it. In the end, the used it on the city, but it was unstable and the molocules started drifting apart from everything. Fearing total destruction of Kandor, Superman RE-shrunk the city again, put back into its bottle and revowed to "someday' perfect the ray.

The second time Kandor was restored was in Superman #338,(1979). Supergirl tried to stop him from using the same ray on the city again, thinking all of the people of Kandor would be killed. But Superman discovered that the drifting of molocules only affected the buildings and NOT the inhabitants. Everyone was "regular size" again, and decided to stay on a planet with a red sun (instead of the super-power-giving yellow one), and rebuild the city. Thus finally ended the whole Kandor story. But with so many flaws. Like...where were these Kandorians going to get the raw materials, electricity (or other power sources), food, etc., etc. that they needed if everything in the previous city save themselves was now gone??? Oh well...just another silly story we all bought from DC during it's pre-Crisis Bronze Age era. (But, as they say, I digress.)

In the animated Legion story the whole scenero was much more "believable". Braniac 5 links into the mind of the original Braniac and learns how to MAKE an enlargening ray and restores the city on another planet, with everything intact. (In fact, all of the broken fragments of Krypton was refused and restored back into a living planet just for this purpose beforehand.) Then, of course, Brainy wipes Supes mind clean of the whole incident so he wouldn't f*ck up his own history (when he returns to his own time)!

The Batman animated show is much better these days. For one thing they finally gave Bats back his square jaw and got rid of that ghod-awful "pointed" one from earlier episodes. This was your standard good episode starring Robin and Bat Girl as well, all fighting The Joker. My only complaint is with The Joker's hair. They need to lose the long unkept look and get back to the basics of it being shorted and more groomed. But I suppose they figure that's he's one wild and krazy guy, and that "why" he was designed as such.

Was supposed to have had company this morning, but with all of the hecticness of last night with work and then visitation at the funeral home, and then my mom calling, and trying to fix me something to eat, and cleaning up, and, etc.,etc.,etc., I forgot to email him back to let him know for certain that I was off work today. He's an old friend that I've know for a good 40 years and a fellow comic book collector, and we'll get together sometime soon I hope before Christmas as it's always great to visit with him.

I did finally get my act together and go down to the local flea market this morning. Found a little handful of cheap comics; mostly 70's humor stuff from Archie and Charlton, but there was a couple of interesting comics in it. One was a copy of Gladstone's Uncle Scrooge Adventures #5 which was an all Don Rosa issue and related a tale about McDuck's past when he was diggin' around for gold in Alaska. And the other a "Free Comic Book Day" version of Superman/Batman #1, which I've never read. And another was a copy of Beetle Bailey (Charlton) #113 (1975) which had a two page text story with 4 "spot illos" by John Byrne (done in his early career at Charlton).

I also found a boxed, 4 disc version of the flick, The Chronicles of Narnia on DVD. I'd been wanting to watch this flick and was too lazy to rent it. Plus I'd read some not so good reviews, but I wanted to see it anyway and I figured that this was the way to go as it was fairly inexpensive and in great condition with all of the discs, booklets, etc. complete. I must confess that I haven't read "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" for nearly 50 years, or at least 45 years, as I was either a pre-teen or young teen when I originally did. But I'll get around to giving everyone my 2 cents' worth on what I think of it eventually.

And in today's mail I got a small lot of four comics from the Bronze Age, all Marvel's, that I'd won for a mere 99 cents. The only reason I had really bidded on this was for the Sub-Mariner #57(1973-See ABOVE pic) due to it being ALL Bill Everett story & artwork. But the others in this lot were somewhat decent as well and included copies of Master of Kung-Fu #'s 38 (1976/Paul Gulacy art) & 62 (Jim Craig art), and Marvel Premiere #53(1980; a "Black Panther" issue). The Subby was an issue near the end of the great Everett's lifetime of comic book masterpieces. Many newer comic book fans may not know that Bill Everett created not just one aquatic super hero, but two, the other being "The Fin" (back in The Golden Age). So this has been a very comic-booky day for me with nearly a dozen new acquisitions for my collections.

And today I went outside and raked out the rest of the leaves from under the bushes and away from the side of the house and mulched them all up with the push mower. Without looking back on posts I'm not sure how long getting rid of the Autumn leaves has taken me this time, or even how many times I've already done this chore this season, but hopefully this is the last of them as 99% of the leaves have fallen from my trees. Outside of cleaning out my rain gutters on the house again, I'd say that this is over for this year. (Just a penny for every leaf I raked. Hey! 2 for a Penny! I'd still be a millionaire!) Saturday: 12-01-07.